Hailing from Boston’s little brother, Worcester, The Promise is Hope brings an uncommon sound from a city known for its metal, hardcore, and hip-hop. Most wouldn’t view Worcester as a romantic city despite a heart being its official symbol, yet this newly-married folk-rock duo easily makes Elm Park look like Central Park in the video for the title track of their debut album Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going.

The album opens with intricate, soft fingerpicking and the two artists’ lovely vocal harmony on the track “Quiet Hands.” Eric L’Esperance takes the lead on this track and, in an attempt to give an air of wistfulness to complement the poetic dream-like lyrics, his vocals become at times monotone and flat. Although not the strongest first track, it is enough to leave one curious and ready to see what more this duo has to offer.

“Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going” follows, beginning with more acoustic fingerpicking, layered with reverberating ambient tones from Mr. L’Esperance’s electric guitar, and topped off with a couple bars of light piano. The real treat of this track is the solo debut of the classically trained Ashley L’Esperance. Her voice has an addictive and endearing quality—silky, sweet, and smooth—to be savored like bowl of coffee ice cream.

Mrs. L’Esperance gives an outstanding performance in “Gold,” one of the strongest tracks on the record. She hits high notes that will send a shiver up your spine, embellished with skillfully-executed vibrato. Mr. L’Esperance follows up with a much improved vocal performance in “A Light, A Treasure” as the LP picks up momentum brandishing rock-style drums and electric guitar. When he puts power into his voice during this track, it leaves one wishing for more.

The listener will be pleased to find Mr. L’Esperance’s electric guitar continues to accompany his wife’s acoustic in “God Knows I’ve Tried.” Suddenly, at what feels like a natural apex of the album she belts, “I can’t appease you any longer!” with more intensity than any other phrase on the record. This immense release of pent-up emotion trails off like a sigh of relief. An instrumental break follows with a slow build up of drums and electric guitar that feels like the tense silent aftermath. This track airs the dirty laundry; it peaks like an argument waged by two people in love that know each other better than anyone. It exemplifies the inevitable point in a relationship when the rose colored glasses come off. Nobody’s perfect.

The album acts as a time capsule of young love. It feels honest, no doubt due in part to the strong Christian values the two hold, evident even if you are half-listening to the lyrics. They do not pretend that faith is the answer to everything and do not fail to include the conflicts that come with all human experience. It also is not entirely about each other–many songs are dedicated or written about others that influenced their lives. The album offers something for both romantics and realists alike.

You can stream and purchase Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going exclusively on Bandcamp.

Album Review: The Promise Is Hope - Where We've Been & Where We're Going
  • Honest
  • Ashley's vocals
  • Eric's electric guitar
  • Some skippable tracks

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