Local Listen – Copper Leaf’s “Symbolic” Sets the Mood for Autumn 

This is an entry in an ongoing series for 303 Magazine, which will provide a range of local album reviews. It is our intention to highlight the talents of local musicians, whether veterans to the industry or newcomers. Like the bands, the album can be fresh or something we just haven’t had the power to take off repeat in the past few months. Check out previous entries in the series here.

Copper Leaf is helping ring in the new season through dark, honest lyrics intertwined through breaths of sentimental relief. A sharp yet refreshing contrast to the default facade of today’s time, Copper Leaf opts for candor over comfort in their latest release, Symbolic. A collection of memories of heartbreak, hope, mediocrity and muses, Symbolic serves as a window into the inner workings of the Boulder-born band, Copper Leaf.

A five-piece family comprised of Sawyer Bernath, Eric Dorr, Liz Berube, Dave Beuerman and Derek Slate, Copper Leaf is redefining the indie-Americana sound through their distinctive harmonies and persuasive instrumentals. Symbolic is their second full-length album that spans eight full-bodied selections that remain mostly independent from one another, with the exception of a reoccurring heartbreak mentioned throughout.

Photo courtesy of Copper Leaf

Starting with self-reflection, Symbolic opens with “Mirrors.” This emotion-driven introduction pleads, “Well, I didn’t break a mirror this time, it’s always so hard to look myself in the eye,” implying an inner conflict. As the song progresses, a recent ex-lover enters the frame of memory. “Mirrors” nods to the complexities of relationships and the messy aftermath left behind, a common theme throughout the album, taken from various relationship dynamics. As a collection of past memories and mental states, Symbolic progresses to “White Noise,” a song about seemingly meaningless thoughts and distractions. This fast-paced rock-infused track pushes out the idea of past admirations as white noise.

Not all songs focus on love’s pain points. An album favorite, “Rough Women” honors the women who go against the grain and aren’t afraid to turn heads with “pierced lips and tattoos.” “Rough Women” isn’t without its balance, however. The lyrics bring in the fact that rough women are often hard to lock down and reminds one of the heartaches that accompanies any attempt to do so.

Photo by Nikki A. Rae

“Providence, NJ” contrasts an upbeat melody with the raw, unfinished emotions left behind from the death of a father. Part admiration, part frustration, “Providence, NJ” works through the constant struggle of accepting and forgiving the loose ends of a life cut short. Symbolic doesn’t shy from life’s difficulties. Instead, Copper Leaf opts for draping these adversities with gorgeous harmonics and fitting instrumentals. “Easy” is the perfect archetype of this dynamic. Light melodies provide a backdrop for painfully beautiful lyrics of the impossibility of letting a lover down easy.

Symbolic serves as a fitting introduction to autumn. As fresh leaves die off and the mood changes from growth to decay, Symbolic pairs well with the changing of seasons to a time of reflection and contemplation. While heartbreak is unavoidable, Copper Leaf’s Symbolic, proves it can still be a beautiful, chaotic, work of art.