Angels of Light | Everything is Good Here... | Review

All Music Guide | Ned Raggett

AMG rating: ****

Having created some of the strongest music in his life on the previous Angels of Light album, on Everything is Good Here Michael Gira maintains the winning streak but explores a newer, more controlled delicacy. It's hardly a new move for him, of course, but in ways this album, the third in the Angels of Light guise, finds his extremes of harrowing, wrenching music and performance and a calmer, almost mystic approach more integrated than ever before. The drama in his vocals and arrangements are more than even implicit instead of directly blasting, to beautiful and powerful effect. "Palisades" sets this tone from the start, incorporating everything from backing choirs and dank, dark riffs to the quietest of arrangements into one cohesive performance. Other songs that hit the balance just right include "Nations," with its quiet, persistent vibes part a counterbalance to the more insistent guitars and piano, and the incredible "Sunset Park," words delivered as a steady mantra over a surging slow burn performance that feels like a triumphant march. Gira's gift for ritualistic theatricality certainly hasn't left him, as even a casual listen to the increasingly frenetic "All Souls' Rising" — keep an ear out for the almost stabbing vocal bursts — or the even more freaked out "Rose of Los Angeles" shows. On the quieter side through and through, "What You Were," with Gira's cracking vocals and piano providing the centerpiece, is the album's hidden treasure, the lyrics of loss, regret and mystery particularly compelling. Both Gira's core backing musicians and the many guests throughout contribute incalculably to the end result, whether it's Larry Mullins's always excellent percussion or David Coulter's work with everything from violin ("Kosinski") to a children's choir.