Lonesome Dreams, the debut album by Lord Huron (aka Ben Schneider), is a dreamy, bucolic affair with wanderlust in its veins. With its acoustic guitars, choral vocal arrangements, and delicate layers of looped piano, slide guitar, and orchestral strings, it sounds like the Los Angeles-by-way-of-Michigan musician has visited Grizzly Bear’s Yellow House, but he isn’t prone to stay in one place for long. His rich harmonies are shot through with an undercurrent of restlessness and a lust for adventure that repeatedly breaks the surface.
Weaving together themes of death, love and movement, Schneider offers up a seductive picture of life lived in a state of constant searching, coming off like Springsteen in reverse – a time of returning to the fields (and mountains, and rivers and deserts) rather than the factory to seek success. Opening volley “Ends of the Earth,” doubles as a mission statement, Schneider musing against the polyrhythmic tide, “What good is living the life you’ve been given, if all you do is stand in one place?”
Heeding his own advance, Schneider carries the listener through the tropical-leaning, steel drum embellished “The Man Who Lives Forever,” to the modern-day cowboy anthem “Setting Sun,” which is heavily indebted to the spaghetti Western composer Ennio Morricone. But it’s the winsome, multi-movement album centerpiece “In the Wild” that truly captures Schneider’s yearnings: Swelling from a minimal voice and guitar refrain into a joyous effusion of full band and strings, it’s nothing short of an escapist’s siren call, pulling the listening out to sea.