On The Courage of Others, Midlake delves deeper than ever into the subdued folk it had begun to explore on 2006's The Trials of Van Occupanther. Far from their roots as jazz students at the University of North Texas, Midlake's members have carved out a niche of Americana that sounds both intimate and grandiose, flowing gently from delicate verses to ornate, sweeping choruses.
The dark sounds of The Courage of Others didn't come to the band easily: It spent a year writing and scrapping new material before it even began to work on the songs that would make up the new album. Recently featured as part of NPR Music's Exclusive First Listen series, the album sounds isolated and withdrawn without devolving into desolation: A glimmer of optimism takes shape in the layered harmonies and intricately arranged guitars. In this World Cafe session, the band plays songs from the new album.