Canon Blue
Available August 16, 2011 on Temporary Residence Limited
Photo: Kyle Dean Reinford

Rumspringa is the 11-song orchestral pop marvel from Canon Blue, the solo project from American singer-songwriter Daniel James. The record was written while touring the world with Danish indie rock band Efterklang, and primarily recorded in the off-hours at their Copenhagen studio. A tour de force if there ever was one, Rumspringa is a classical exploration of emotions, with nuanced arrangements of woodwinds, brass and percussion lending a unique tenderness to modern melodies and lyrics.

After recording the record’s skeleton in Copenhagen, James traveled to Iceland to record orchestral arrangements with renowned string quartet Amiina (most famously recognized as Sigur Rós’ string section). The expansive, gleeful result is an ingenious combination of the old and the new, a lush minimalism that allows James’ graceful lyrics to float through the air as if time is suspended. Rumspringa’s songs combine the soulful intimacy of Jeff Buckley and the playful whimsy of Sufjan Stevens with the stately meditation of Steve Reich and Philip Glass.

Canon Blue’s auspicious beginnings are rooted in the 2007 debut album, Colonies, a bedroom electronic folk collaboration with Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor. Rumspringa sees James fully realizing his role as both composer and songwriter, something he has learned through his years on the road. Having explored the world and explored his own musical potential and desires, this is the result—a record that is neither new nor old, neither completely contemplative nor completely giddy, but certainly complete, and certainly a wonder to behold.