When you’re young, you think you have unlimited time. But as you get older, you recognize that you only have so much sand in the hourglass. When this hard truth hits you, the need to figure out your priorities becomes a lot more urgent.

Life After Youth Land of Talk’s first album in seven years — captures bandleader Elizabeth Powell as she figures out hers. She says as much on “This Time:” [LISTEN]

This Time

In the time between this release and 2010’s Cloak and Cipher, Powell got dealt a series of hardships that might have overwhelmed another person. First, her hard drive crashed, which caused her to lose all of the demos for a potential solo album. Then in 2013, her father suffered a stroke and required her care. To make matters even worse, she developed a vocal polyp, which almost took away her ability to sing.

But surprisingly, none of these difficulties seem to cast much of a shadow over Life After Youth. If anything, the album feels lighter and more hopeful than any previous Land of Talk release. It’s as if confronting life’s fragility has encouraged Powell to make the most of the time she has left.

The beguiling ease of Powell’s vocals conveys this sense of hard-earned optimism. Thanks to playful touches like the bits of melisma on “This Time” and the mock-spacey delivery on “Loving,” she sounds downright happy even as she sings about failed relationships.

The sweet sensuousness of the music provides more uplift. Serene keyboards smooth over the rough edges of Powell’s jangly guitar, giving Life After Youth a softness and fullness that Cloak and Cipher and Some Are Lakes didn’t have. The album’s gentler, poppier sound reflects Powell’s growing interest in Japanese tonkori and ambient music, which had helped her father recover from his stroke.

Life after youth isn’t easy. That’s why it’s important to find the things that’ll sustain you. As Powell makes clear on this album, she’s found one of the big ones. “Spiritual Intimidation” puts it most succinctly: [LISTEN]

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