An interrupted, never-ending serenade

Richard Rebarber and Charlie Lieurance have been writing songs for the Lincoln, Neb., collective Floating Opera for more than 20 years. As is befitting a loose association of artists, the output has been sporadic (this is the first album since 2009). The music, however, has been utterly consistent. Consistently arresting.

Floating Opera
Pop Song on the Elevator Down

Part of that is the dramatic settings for these songs. Rebarber writes and arranges the music, and he prefers a kinetic, orchestral feel. The strings (both electronic and analog) punch up the lush fullness of the music. Rebarber and Lieurance have had the luxury of working with some of the greatest female singers who have called Nebraska home in recent times. I still prefer Lori Allison's earlier work with the band, but that probably has to do with seeing the Millions a few times while I was in college. Current vocalist Morgan Beach has the supple alto that has well served Lieurance and Rebarber's work since forever. She's pretty great, too.

And so, this is another generous set of muscular chamber pop from Floating Opera. Personnel may change, but the sound bounds on. I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone pair strings and guitars quite so aggressively in a pop setting. That motif rings through this set again and again, and all it does is remind me to listen to all the other Floating Opera albums again.

Most likely, Floating Opera will continue to function as a semi-occasional thing, pumping out a brilliant album every few years. After all, no one here is making a living from this band. If you can live a full life and kick out some art like this on occasion, I'd say that's pretty damned awesome. It inspires me, anyway. If you have never checked these folks out, do yourself a favor and get on board. Life is too short to miss greatness like this.

Jon Worley

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