Over four full-length releases and a handful of EPs, the Album Leaf have solely been the work of multi-instrumentalist producer Jimmy LaValle. His songs touch on delicate acoustics and waves of found sound, resulting in gorgeous mood-shapers constructed for close listening. That's why A Chorus of Storytellers is such a turning point. It marks the first time the Album Leaf have recorded as a full band. And while the added musicians make for fantastic moments of post-rock explosiveness ("Until the Last"), the ambient, intimate tracks still work best.
"Blank Pages" is built around a simple mechanical beat, piano twinkle and moaning strings, before gently building into dense euphoria. "Within Dreams" is the aural equivalent of herbal tea, thanks to light electronic ticks and warm, soothing melodies. Even the dramatic, melancholic orchestrations of "Summer Fog" induce calm. There might be more brawn behind the new Album Leaf, but LaValle's brains are responsible for the beautiful moments you won't forget. — Matt Whelihan