That’s how PancakesAndWhiskey.com described THE LIGHT BELOW, the highly anticipated third album by WALKING PAPERS (frontman Jefferson Angell and keyboard player/longtime collaborator Benjamin Anderson), which was released today via Carry On Music and can be purchased or streamed here.
Videos for the album’s first three singles, “Divine Intervention,” “The Value of Zero” and “What Did You Expect?” can be seen now on the band’s official YouTube and Vevo pages.
To listen to WALKING PAPERS is like gaining access to a secret society, like stumbling upon your new favorite bar behind an unmarked door — the kind where every patron has a story, and every night is a late one. With THE LIGHT BELOW, we’re once again invited behind the velvet curtain, to the smoke-filled room where whiskey-voiced Angell holds court, telling his tales over bluesy riffs with an alluring darkness.
Known for his bruised, evocative vocals, and craftsman-like songwriting, he uses the new album to build on an already formidable catalog, with a cinematic style that oscillates between lust and loathing. Described by Angell as “a sort of mindfulness exercise,” the new tracks focus restless energy left in the wake of personal loss and creative self-doubt. “I’ve always used music as a way to deal with negative experiences and to figure myself out,” he explains, “I’ve lost a few close friends the last couple years and some of these songs provided the light I needed to process that. Those same songs have now become a way to continue a conversation with the ghosts.”
PancakesAndWhiskey.com went on to call THE LIGHT BELOW, “…a powerful rush of dark rock…mesmerizing… has a uniquely cinematic feel…a sit-down-and-listen, edge-of-your-seat kind of record, but it’s equally pleasing when you might be listening more passively; a gripping life soundtrack that makes everyday moments feel like film noir. From Andrews’ strikingly precise drumming to Anderson’s vivid keys to the vibe-setting saxophone by Lothian, it’s a colorful base on which Angell paints his pensive lyrics. THE LIGHT BELOW is like a sonic trip to a place where neon signs and car headlights illuminate leather-jacketed late-nighters.”
While PhilsPicks.com called it, “One of 2021’s essential albums,” RPMOnline.com declared, “…a contender for album of the year already,” and MyGlobalMind.com proclaimed, “Bluesy, alternative, artful rock music. This is the sort of music that I always imagine Talking Head’s David Byrne telling all of his friends about. It’s got everything Byrne embraces when it comes to style, art, lyrical content and more…This is a great release that reminds us that great music is out there if we look for it.”
With a diverse array of legendary supporting members itching to hop in and jam over the years, including Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses), Mike McCready (Pearl Jam), Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees), it’s no surprise that caliber of musicianship is what WALKING PAPERS has become notorious for. This time around, they’ve recruited Will Andrews (drums), Gregor Lothian (Saxophone), and Dean DeLeo (Stone Temple Pilots) for some roof-raising guitar work on “Divine Intervention” as well as “Stood up at the Gates of Heaven.”
“Who you’re playing with obviously changes the dynamics of what you’re doing,” explains Angell. “As with most labor of love projects there was blood, sweat and tears, but those shared the space with a lot of laughs and personal epiphanies. It’s never easy to articulate something you hear in your head to another person. But in the end, what we achieved was beyond our expectations and I think we’re all better for it.”