This year, I’m extra proud of my playlist for the road trip home because of its perfect combination of indie, folk and pop with my new favorite album “Cleopatra” by The Lumineers.
“Cleopatra,” released on April 8, 2016, is the first album by The Lumineers in over four years — mainly due to three years of non-stop touring, six months of writing and two months of recording.
The Lumineers, a Denver-based folk-rock trio, are best known for their hit single “Ho Hey” released in 2012. The song reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was used in several commercials, movie trailers and television shows.
However, after their second single “Stubborn Love,” they slowly began to lose their initial fame and many critics, predicted that they would disappear like many folk-rock bands before them. Surprisingly, The Lumineers have proved those predictions wrong with their sophomore album “Cleopatra.” The album has a slower tempo compared to their earlier work and brings their gravelly vocals to center stage.
Co-founders of The Lumineers Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that when writing “Cleopatra,” they went back to the basics, using their lyrics to share stories of love, loss and longing for home.
“We put an onus on the kind of characters and stories that are not so prevalent in popular music today,” Schultz said in an interview. “We want songs you can wrap your arms around. There’s enough generic stuff out there full of recycled words that don’t really mean anything. There have to be other stories to tell and other ways to tell them.”
Overall, “Cleopatra” is an incredible album, and I highly recommend you add it to your road trip playlist. I promise you that there’s nothing more magical than breathing in the deep lyrics and beautiful performance while your windows are rolled down and the sun is shining on your skin.
And if I haven’t convinced you yet, here is a quick rundown of my top three songs:
1. “Cleopatra,”the title song of the album, came from an encounter with a taxi driver named Wes the band met in the Republic of Georgia. They were moved by how she told them her tale of personal tragedy without a trace of self-pity.
“As an American, a lot of what we do is tell the world how great our life is,” Schultz said. “People create stories about themselves through social media which are completely disconnected from what we personally know about their lives. I felt cleansed to be around someone who was just telling me how it actually was for them.”
2. “Ophelia” personifies fame as a dangerous temptress. The song is about how the band dealt with their success after “Ho Hey” won awards in 2012.
“‘Ophelia’ is a vague reference to people falling in love with fame,” Schultz said. “That spotlight can seem like an endless buffet, but in reality, you’re just shiny, bright and new to people for a quick moment — and then you have the rest of your life to live.”
3.”My Eyes” portrays the way it feels to be betrayed or let down by someone you care about. It expresses The Lumineer’s encounter with Hollywood and how it crushes the lives of wannabes.
“The world sees you as being put on a pedestal but you are also put on a hamster wheel, and that does strange things to people,” Schultz said. “Even a little bit of fame can distort perceptions if people see you and react abnormally.”