Album Review: Planes On Paper – Edge Markings

The days of Summer are closing in, and that leaves us with one very important task: finding the right Fall albums to soundtrack the Autumn season to. Think crisp mornings with steaming coffee and slow walks under changing trees. May we offer for your consideration Edge Markings, the newest album from neo-folkie duo Planes On Paper. The perfect Fall walk should be lightheartedly paradoxical, both a little hopeful and a little sad but above all, nostalgic. Edge Markings delivers across all of those fronts.

This is the band’s first feature-length LP. Many of the songs collected here have appeared in some form online and in live performances over the last several years. It is an intimate collection, cataloguing several years of hard work and you can feel it in the connected, emotional harmonies from front man Navid Eliot and vocalist Jen Borst. The album faithfully renders the acoustic folk sound that hallmarked the sound of the aughts and continues its strong hold in cafes across North America. For those who miss the heyday of The Weepies, or keep a flame burning for The Head And The Heart and the Milk Carton Kids, Edge Markings will be a welcome addition to you musical library.

The duo’s harmonies sustain the album while Eliot’s acoustic guitar acts as the workhouse on each track, supplying much of the album’s rhythmic inertia. The picking style is lush, supporting the vocals like a parlor floor providing space for dancers shaking out intricate movements. A few tracks feature a pacing snare here and there, as well as some string arrangements that add a level of sweetness and beauty typical to the music of this genre. When the cello enters on the second-to-last track Wolves, it brings a welcome warmth and diversity in the sound.

The voice of Eliot and Borst posses a certain clairvoyance—their melodies track each other across the album’s sonic landscape with an otherworldly intimacy. One of the biggest standouts from the album can be found in Hermit Song, where an ode to a simpler way of life births a complex ear-worm of a melody that surprises beyond what is often capable with on just an acoustic guitar. Here Eliot and Borst’s songwriting and the album’s organic production gels fluidly and becomes a strong contender for your Fall playlist. The strongest songwriting on the album occurs in All That’s Flesh Is Grass, the second track on the album. It’s a quote from The Bible and Eliot flips it on its head, to a delightful outcome. Those who have left faith traditions that cling to fundamental interpretations will delight in the word play here that finds the songwriter contending with the inconsistencies found in those often-apocalyptic worldviews.

Regardless of the desired political and introspective edge in the songwriting, this is friendly music. It’s not so anti-establishment that you couldn’t listen to this album with your Mom. And if your Mom likes bands like The Head And The Heart, all the better. Invite her on your pleasant Autumn walk, sync up your Bluetooth headphones with Edge Markings, and have a really nice time.

Lyndsay Dyk