A mid-January release, Gilead is a stellar EP from The Broken Cradle (a.k.a Eric McLean) that further solidifies his sound in a definitive way. Intense at times, milder at others; Eric always manages to keep a certain emotive quality throughout. The album is heavily piano-driven throughout but always makes room for soaring pads and soothing textures that really set it apart from other neoclassical piano albums.
The two main elements of the album, the pads and the keys, alternate in the spotlight throughout. However, it never sounds as though they are in competition with one another. Rather, they deftly switch between one another in a way that resembles a coordinated dance. Examples can be heard throughout but the most prominent can be heard on “The Oracle.” As the keys play along, slowly seeming to gain speed, the pads and accompanying textures overtake them without drowning them out until they eventually fade out again to leave us only with the softly playing keys that eventually fade away themselves.
Similar coordination can be heard on tracks such as “A Way Forward” though not with the same intensity. However, where Eric has really seemed to branch out is in his use of textures outside of the expected pads and keys. On the aforementioned track, he utilizes some textures that are much more akin to synthesized noise than your normal pad. The slight harshness of such textures is a subtle counterpoint to the softness of the keys that they stand alongside.
Particular to the album is the structure. It seems to follow the plotline of classical stories. That is we experience a rise in the first two tracks, “Road to Gilead” and “The City Gates”, followed by an intense climax in the middle with the track “Oracle” and finally a bit of falling action in the final two tracks, “A Way Forward” and “Leaving Gilead.” It seems that behind the textures and the keys, we are being told a story of a journey. We are never explicitly told the who, the what, the why, or exactly the where; but I suppose that should be left to the listener.