REVIEW: Lylak come of age on “Leave it to Light”

By Matt Wickstrom

Lylak is (from left) Gideon Maki, Paul Varnado, Zach Martin and Elizabeth Varnado. Photo by Molly Quick | Frame Visuals

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Lexington’s ambient rock foursome Lylak continue their evolution on their latest EP Leave it to Light.

The project is the third in four years for the Gideon Maki led outfit and acts as a coming of age moment for the band with it being the group’s first recordings with vocalist/violinist Elizabeth Varnado firmly ingrained into the band’s lineup and sound. While she had contributed backup vocals on 2017’s self-titled effort, on Leave it to Light Varnado steps into the forefront with timely violin arrangements and soft, heavenly vocals, both in backing Maki and taking the lead herself.

Perhaps the EP’s most shining moment is on “Stones,” which happens to be the first track written by Varnado for the band. The song shows off Varnado’s vocal range as she rides the waves of Maki, bassist Paul Varnado and drummer Zach Martin’s easy-going, reverb-happy instrumentals.

Similar to on “Stones,” the newest Varnado to join Lylak shines on “Balance Beam,” the EP’s second track which features her trading lead vocals and harmonizing with Maki as the band journeys through an all-too-familiar ethereal landscape.

Another standout from the EP is “Beggar,” which sees Maki take back the reigns with desolate opening vocals before being joined Varnado on a soft duet, with the band’s rhythm section building momentum behind them.

While the vocals receive the bulk of recognition on Leave it to Light, the songs wouldn’t be the same without the tightness and precision of Paul Varnado and Martin holding down the group’s rhythm section. The band collectively acts as a cog, and while each member individually has prowess it doesn’t stand up to their combined effort.

The five songs making up the EP were recorded in three days at Sabbath Recording in Cincinnati with Jacob Merrit and Matt Latchaw, who helped to give Leave it to Light the most polished sound of any of Lylak’s projects to come before it.

The band hopes to ride the momentum from Leave it to Light into the summer months and beyond during performances at The Green Lantern on May 2 (with Abby Hamilton and Spencer Thomas Smith), on a string of dates supporting Matthew Thiessen (formerly of Relient K), and at the 26th annual Master Musicians Festival in Somerset from July 19-20.

For more information on Lylak like the band on Facebook.

Listen to Leave it to Light below.


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