The Code of The Flowers by Ayla Nereo
The magnetic songstress Ayla Nereo returns with an ambitious and potent offering in her fifth solo LP, The Code of the Flowers. The composer/vocalist transmits an enveloping array of styles and messages through thirteen spiritually luminescent medicine songs. Steadfastedly focused on a return to the balance between our natural world and human evolution, this album is a love letter to planet earth, ornately dressed in celestial tones, campfire sing alongs, harmonies sublime, and lush, understated instrumentation.
Earlier this year, Nereo put the finishing touches on a fresh batch of original music and decamped to Jumpsuit Farms Studios in Northern California, hunkering down for three weeks of intensive recording. For the ceremonial convergence, Ayla was joined by multi-instrumentalists Ryan Herr and Tyson Leonard, who both play on and co-produce The Code of the Flowers. The terrific trio burned the midnight oil, and were ably assisted by Ayla’s band members Amelia Rae (piano, harp, and vox) and Brian Parks (percussion and vox), as well as violinist Lydia Violet, flutist Jesse Hendrix, and longtime friends MaMuse. In assembling a diverse band of acoustic musicians, incorporating elements cinematic and technological, and manifesting what stands among her most inspired melodic poetry, Nereo has crafted an indelible testament to the movement, and a prodigious addition to her ever-evolving songbook.
The hauntingly beautiful meditation “Whispers” opens the album, picking up where her Jumpsuit Records debut, 2014’s Hollow Bone left off. The riveting chorus is a prophetic ode to the trees and their protective nurturing. The irresistible “Tightrope Walker” is a soaring ballet in the Tori Amos tradition, and finds Nereo’s hero tip-toeing a cautionary tale atop supple piano. When the revolution comes, “Seeds” just might just be the anthem; a humble, triumphant determination builds the song to an intoxicating apex. The masterful slab of righteous is born of an occupied urban farm and her blossoms, vegetation that exists, like Nereo herself, in a stern rebuke of Babylon. “Ivory Tongue” unveils the dragoness within, woven through Ayla’s trademark alliterations and layered vocals.
First single “Little Beckon” reveals more pop sensibility, sacrificing no authenticity, instead enhancing the accessibility. The refrain recalls Stevie Nicks’ mystic, emotive journeys; this track is infused with Ayla’s empowering self-awareness, and emboldened by her motivational mantras. Beyond embedding environmental activism and earth prayer throughout the album, a recurring theme is knowledge of self. On the stunning “Turning Wake,” Ayla is at maybe her most delicate, and at once her most inspiring; sweeping strings and a cradle of aural compassion propel her activated message through ancient song. Softened production elements propel the ethereal “Wild Burn,” while “Drive By Fires” is feminine folk euphony in its purest essence. The album’s closer “The Course” is nothing short of a mission statement, a call to arms, a validation, and a salutation. Amid a spine-tingling chorus that mimics a village of children in unison, Nereo issues the mandate, and asks how we will follow suit. The answers are revealed in quartz-like clarity: we can start by unlocking The Code of the Flowers.