Second out of the gate on Forest Ray’s Black Pine album is the new single “Shadows”. Established Seattle band Forest Ray go the distance again with this nod to 60s surf and psychedelic rock. And in the same vein as the song “Honesty”, listeners will immerse themselves in the splendor of twangy guitar melted to rock and roll rhythms. Forest Ray continue to spring forward with organic tones and mine the auditory caverns of the mind. Black Pine is the band’s fourth album and follows Musical Witchcraft (2016), Laughing (2018) and Faded Reflection (2019).

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Bubbling from the rich soil and Pacific Northwest, the music video to “Shadows” is a mysterious pulp fiction-like page turner. While the lyrics to “Shadows” fall softly like fresh snow, the song’s visual representation is honey suckle, rusty orange. I just want to follow you now…in the shadows of your mind, sings lead singer Peter Sumic. In the music video, Sumic plays the role of a bit of an odd duck. He’s lurking around, what seems to be an abandoned house, with an equally strange stuff animal. The band members play their instruments, and like VHI Pop Up video, round circles float away with garnished colors and embellishments.

My whole life, I-I-I-I’m wondering into the night, sings Sumic. His soothing voice partnered with a bright, warm guitar. The riffs are almost surf rock, very 60s-esque. The guitar captures that Pacific Northwest feel. It’s humid and a convergence of a pesky wind cooing over the waters. In this particular case, too, the sound possess halos from the flute and the second guitar’s undertow. It’s brief and very sneaky, but the flute sound is also like the wind echoing into the canyon sound. While I listened to “Shadows” I felt weightless. I think what songwriter Sumic is expressing is that he’s trying to put himself in another person’s shoes. He’s trying to transform his life and in a way, he’s going undercover and into that person’s deep psyche. The music bed suggests comfort and warmth, but the foggy awareness ingratiates itself to the listener. I think that’s revealing. We all have a layer we hide behind, even though it looks clear to some.

I really liked the vocals in the chorus. Sumic enlists the help of Seattle rocker Ashlyn Nagel (VIIY and Control Test) in both the track and the music video. Nagel was also in the Forest Ray music video for “Honesty”. She has a porcelain-sounding voice, a higher pitch to Sumic’s middle-of-the-road range. Balanced with the sweet guitars and modest percussion, the affable turnout is easy to embrace.

Forest Ray started as a duo in San Luis Obispo, California. Sumic’s Croatian roots and love for the Beach Boys filters its way into the Forest Ray sound. He’s the lead singer, guitarist and plays harmonica. Joining him in the band are drummer Eric Junge, bass guitarist Sebastian Brown-Glad, Brendan McGovern on saxophone, flute and organ and guitarist Simon Olander. True recording aficionados, Forest Ray prefer to record their music via analogy. Thus, listeners will have that rich experience listening via vinyl records.

Sebastian Cole