Published Oct 28, 2015Days of Heaven, Steven Lambke's first album under his own name, is as gentle an affair as the scene depicted on its cover: a couple in missionary position, bottom tenderly embracing top, mighty, calm moon overlooking them. There are only four tracks of 11 that don't feature the word love or its variables, and Lambke's sweet, cracked whisper lends them an instant sincerity. There are moments that yearn for some extra level of dynamics that whisper can't provide, but the gorgeous, understated arrangements — provided by an all-star cast of musicians — pull it off handily on songs like "Moonshine Brother".
The combination of Lambke's tender words and the subtle energy of the arrangements are best in the album's second half, but the first has its moments, too. The title track is a gorgeous way to ease the listener in, evoking sunbeams shining soft through white curtains as Lambke sings, "It takes a strong mind not to turn away from the gaze of heaven." "Memory Forever," with a shining guest turn from Tamara Lindeman, is another early highlight.
The last 15 minutes are nearly flawless, with Lambke musing on the final "Days of Rough Grace": "How will I ever know how close I came to what I tried to be / A man who learned to speak of beauty?" (You've Changed)