Indie band takes fans on an emotional journey

The Lumineers' second album Cleopatra.

The hard plastic is cold in your hands. You pop the lid and pull the Lumineers’ 2016 album Cleopatra, out and slide it into the CD player. The kick drum and dulcet vocals to the first track, “Sleep On The Floor,” spill into the car. Your adventure begins.

Whether it’s a five-minute trip to the grocery store, or a spur of the moment road trip out of town, The Lumineers need to go along for the ride.

Comprised of songwriters Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites and accompanied by cellist and backing vocalist Neyla Pekarek, the folk trio emerged in 2012 with music reminiscent of a journey one has yet to take.

This new album has the same acoustic vibe as their self-titled 2012 release. After four years in the making, the album was well received with its number one debut single “Ophelia” hitting the Billboard 200 charts, and the album itself selling about 125,000 copies in its first week, according to Rolling Stone Magazine.

The Lumineers took their time crafting Cleopatra. With six months of song writing in their hometown of Denver, Colorado and two straight months of recording in studio, each lyric and note is deliberate and captures fans with the strong storyline.

This album is an assortment of snippets from voice memos recorded during their three-year tour from the first album. According to Schultz, in an interview with The Aquarian Weekly, the songs were inspired by strangers they met, as well as the trio’s own life experiences.

Schultz and Fraites’s storytelling allows fans to make their own personal connections with the characters from each song, as it did with the songwriters themselves.

Cleopatra tells a story that carries through from one song to the next. According to Schultz, a couple songs from the album follow a character he met whose love story echoes in the lyrics of the album-titled single “Cleopatra” and “Sleep On The Floor.”

By placing himself in the roles of the characters he sings about, Schultz tells each story with an emotion so raw it touches your heart.

Schutlz sings about a young girl losing out on the love of her life in the midst of grieving the death of her father.

“I was Cleopatra, I was young and an actress
When you knelt by my mattress, and asked for my hand
But I was sad you asked it, as I laid in a black dress
With my father in a casket, I had no plans.”

Schultz and Fraites have been writing music together for more than 10 years and are now in their early thirties. Starting their music career late in the game has allowed their life experiences to shape their sound into what it is today.

In their song “Long Way From Home”, Schultz sings of the battle his father lost to cancer many years ago.

“Held on to hope like a noose, like a rope
God and medicine take no mercy on him
Poisoned his blood, and burned out his throat
Enough is enough, he’s a long way from home.”

The desperation stressed through Schultz’s wavering vocals and somber guitar strings is felt through the suffering his father faced from his illness.

Fans can connect with the music’s insight and emotional maturity even if they don’t share the same experiences with the musicians themselves.

From the first song to the very last, Cleopatra takes you on an emotional journey no seatbelt can protect you from.

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Jessica Stoiku is a second year journalism student at Durham College. With a passion for writing, she enjoys exposing the arts and culture stories of people within the community for The Chronicle. She hopes to work for a publication that focuses on human interest and issues on a broader scale.