While recording their third album, Giving & Receiving, the Olympia, WA band LAKE had a bit of a problem. The analog tape they were recording on began to disintegrate, threatening the project and forcing a switch to digital recording. Since part of the reason for recording on tape is the desire to capture a feeling of warmth, the group feared the loss of that intangible quality after the switch-over. They shouldn’t have worried, because the record is just as warm, rich, and layered with soft soul as their previous efforts. The way the voices mix together, the blend of old keyboards, gently strummed guitars, the pleasing array of horns, percussion, and bells that weave through the mix, all join together to make the trademark sound of LAKE with no digital interference. Listening to the album on headphones, it feels like the band is right there in the room with you, surrounding you with their low-key beauty. With the sound sorted out, the next place to look is the songwriting, and the main duo of Eli Moore and Ashley Eriksson turn in a batch of intimate and searching songs that look deep into their lives and at the world, natural and manmade, around them. Eriksson has the kind of soothing voice that can make the tragic line “there used to be fish in the ocean” sound like a sweet lullaby, she floats through her songs with a grace and strength that contrast well with Moore’s quietly fragile vocals. They sound just right singing together, and when the whole band (and their assorted friends) chime in, they get a nice, full, and somewhat haunting chorus sound going. This album isn’t a great leap ahead for LAKE in terms of quality, since the previous two records were also very good, but it does show them improving and refining their sound to the point of perfection. It also may not be the kind of record that will get them all kinds of buzz and acclaim, but if you take a chance on it, after a few listens, you’ll be holding on to Giving & Receiving like you were Linus and it was your security blanket.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra