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Sky Is Mine [Digipak] *
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  • Audio Mixer: Bruno Ellingham.
  • Recording information: Crows Nest Studio, London; HHW Studios, Somerset.
  • Most of the Duke Spirit's albums are graced by only one or two of their stately ballads, but on Sky Is Mine, they're in the majority. Aside from a pair of outbursts -- the swirling psych rock of "Magenta" and the acoustic-driven, bristling "YoYo," the band go further into the introspective mood of their previous album Kin, with an even stronger impact. As on that album, the focus is on Liela Moss' commanding vocals, which are afforded more room and more range thanks to the relative quiet around her. This intimacy allows the texture of her voice on "Broken Dream" to peek through in a way it rarely does on the Duke Spirit's rockers. Elsewhere, the gorgeous harmonies created by her rich alto and her less-heard but lovely upper register on "See Power" and "How Could, How Come" ensure that an album dominated by slower tempos is still compelling. The band also finds enough variety within Sky Is Mine's slow, sad songs to keep things interesting. "Houses" touches on the bittersweet '60s pop territory they did so well on Neptune; "Bones of Proof" and "In Breath" rival Blonde Redhead when it comes to witchy, Baroque drama, and when Moss proclaims "I wouldn't follow if follow was your name" on the lavish piano ballad "The Contaminant," it reaffirms the Duke Spirit is still rebellious at heart. Indeed, the somber restraint they show on Sky Is Mine ends up feeling and sounding liberating, and the result is the band's most beautiful album yet. ~ Heather Phares
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