Luke Temple / Meernaa
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A Hand Through the Cellar Door is Luke Temple’s most straightforward collection of storytelling tunes to date. There are tales of dysfunctional, broken homes and of dysfunctional, broken people. In “Maryanne Was Quiet” and “The Case of Louis Warren,” we follow two characters whose lives unravel in very different ways, though their central question is the same: After you shed all the things you think make you who you are, what is left? Album standout “The Complicated Men of the 1940s” is a thought experiment concerning the sacrifice of a passing generation, where the heroes of yesterday seem like the stuffy, old guard to a new generation that’s grown a bit too entitled for their comfort.
But this being Temple—the creative mind behind Here We Go Magic—nothing is so straightforward. The arrangements, kept to a minimal drums/guitar/bass/string setup, expand and contract in unexpected ways. Temple often will add a guitar hiccup or a just-behind-the-beat string section to create a sensation of everything being slightly off. Although the tales Temple weaves are bleak, the aura of hope never quite fades from the picture. He turns the tragedies of human folly into a celebration of our eccentricities.
On their first full-length release, Heart Hunger, Oakland-based Meernaa—Carly Bond (vocals, guitar), Rob Shelton (keys), Doug Stuart (bass), and Andrew Maguire (drums, percussion)—plumbs the depths of indigo waters. Celestial and soulful, Meernaa’s songs manage to remain grounded in the natural world. These songs are reckonings, revelations of secrets, and lonesome wanderings. They are portraits of emotional evolution, rich illustrations of painful pasts and hopeful futures.