About Hey Marseilles
stretch of old brownstones and new condos which, according to local legend and
loosely interpreted census data, boasts the most diverse zip code in America. Not far
from Columbia City's main drag, amidst a swirl of languages and colors and food and
accents, sits a 100-year-old, two-story house that's home to the world-weary, six-piece
orchestral-pop ensemble known as Hey Marseilles.
World-weary in spirit if not in practice: Hey Marseilles first won hearts across the US
with its 2010 debut, To Travels and Trunks, an album that reveled in the education and
inspiration only globe-trotting exploration can provide. With Matt Bishop's lyrical
wayfaring abutting an instrumental palette that embraced folk tradition—accordion,
strings, and horns; gypsy, Gallic, and classical—To Travels and Trunks gave musical
voice to the universal longing for unfettered freedom. NPR called the record "sublime
A lot has changed in the world since 2010—that house in Columbia City, for instance.
The vacillations of the economy allowed Hey Marseilles violist Jacob Anderson to
acquire it in 2011; he and his younger brother, cellist and producer Sam Anderson,
helped renovate it. Since then, most of the band has lived in it, and the entirety of their
new album was written and recorded in it, or nearby. (Other recording spaces included
a tunnel in Seattle’s Golden Gardens Park, a mostly abandoned brick office building,
and a church sanctuary, all because of their advantages for the band’s acoustic
instrumentation.) Not surprisingly, Lines We Trace is not about going out and searching.
It's about finding you’re already where you need to be.
Make your way back home again, Bishop sings on the dusky ballad "Café Lights." I am
“These songs articulate a sense of longing, but it’s a longing to appreciate what’s in
front of you as opposed to finding meaning in somewhere or someone else, “ says
Bishop. “It’s about finding and creating home where you’re at and as you are.”
The 12 songs on Lines We Trace represent a band steady enough in its sound—
poignant, panoramic, unreservedly gorgeous—that it can expand beyond it. The string
section that hums throughout "Elegy"—quintessentially sweeping, Hey Marseilles
style—shifts into finely composed abstraction for the song's final minute. Colin Richey's
skittering rhythm on “Bright Stars Burning” is a gentle breakbeat, a sly nod to
atmospheric drum 'n' bass. "Madrona" and the album-closing "Demian" are Hey