Described as folk pop, the duo that makes up Big Little Lions (which to me sounds like characters in from a whimsical children’s book) is Helen Austin and Paul Otten.
Their songs touch your soul and have an inherent optimism to them that has resonated with people across the United States and Canada, where Otten and Austin are based, respectively. That’s right — this pair creates music that has impacted millions of people, and has been featured in advertisements for some of society’s most well-known brands, and they communicate across international lines! They do, however, perform live (which means on the same stage) on a regular basis.
Big Little Lions are influenced by Of Mice and Men (which is, in my opinion, the most apparent comparison), Mumford and Sons, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and more. To me, that combination suggests pure musical magic.
Big Little Lions’ Musical Magic
And pure musical magic is what you get from listening to Big Little Lions’ latest EP. The title, Just Keep Moving, exemplifies the positivity and forward-thinking attitude that I referenced earlier. The song that gives the album its name, and many others on the album, is highly evocative of Of Mice and Men.
Otten and Austin often have an equal role in the songs; neither overpowers the other. They touch upon topics such as love, existence, strength, inhibitions, time, emotional baggage, and much more. Somehow, they can capture all of these ideas and leave listeners wondering about them, pondering their own relation to all of these topics, on one album.
“Fills Me Up” was the first song that made me think Big Little Lions’ music should be featured on a laundry detergent commercial, or something. (This was obviously before I found out that their music is frequently used in advertisements. Clearly I wasn’t far off!) This track brings up points of nature; they frequently focus on the process of inhaling and exhaling. It’s a very happy, peppy song that may be a bit corny in terms of the lyrics, but enjoyable nonetheless.
“What If” is obviously an existential tune. There are a number of questions in the lyrics because hypothetical situations are poetic, whether you want to admit so or not. They’re also universal and can let anyone listening to this song, from any walk of life, relate to it.
I think that’s the driving force behind this duo. They provide their listeners with such motivational messages that, with the airy and ethereal music, you can’t help but be carried along. “Just Keep Moving,” for example, suggests the benefits of taking a step in a new direction. It’s about moving out of your comfort zone and not being paralyzed by fear.
“Sounds Like Home” and “In the Quieter Times” are about love and relationships. The former is about how someone’s voice can sound like home (remember Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros?) and the latter, about a dying relationship.
Regardless of the overarching storyline of “In the Quieter Times,” you’re not left feeling sad because Big Little Lions effectively invokes the feelings of residual love. Just because a relationship is over doesn’t mean it never existed or that there is no longer love left between two, now separated, individuals.
There are other tracks on the album, countless other praises I could sing, and innumerable traits I could analyze, but I’m going to leave it on you to listen to Just Keep Moving and see for yourself what you think. If you’re a fan of being lifted into the air with music, checking out fairytale-like scenes on Pinterest, or generally being happy, you’ll enjoy Big Little Lions.