Lowland Hum’s third studio album, Thin, is out today. Its 11 tracks wrap their way in and around several different heart-level themes, but one that maintains precedence throughout is the freedom to be small. Their previous self-titled album aimed for, and executed, a bigger sound with a fuller production; by contrast, Thin relies on the musical capacity of the husband-and-wife duo, Daniel and Lauren Goans, alone.

This is a fragile place to be. As always, the music is greatly informed by the Goans’ marriage — a favorite lyric: “Andrew Wyeth, you always move my wife” — and as their sound becomes more intimate, its investigation of their relationship grows deeper. As Lauren says, the music is almost private, and it asks the very personal question of what it means to be a small, quiet duo in a large, loud world. Thin asks, what if Icarus had stayed on the ground? Daniel and Lauren reference the ambitious winged man on their penultimate track “Winter Grass,” quoting Van Gogh, who once said of the story, “You will often feel that neither you nor I are what we hope to become someday, that we are…wanting in stability, simplicity and sincerity. One cannot become simple and true in one day.” Simplicity and truth: this is what Thin seeks to find. It’s easier to see through thin ice than thick; it’s easier to hear through thin walls. Thin examines the paradoxical way that frailty can lead to a more stable sense of reality.

This sentiment is most pronounced in the haunting track, “Family Tree,” which tells of a lingering, deep-seated wound, as so many of us have. The song searches through the darkness of hardship, following its narrator as she falls back into a state of childlike dependence: “Hold tight to what I think I know about redemption. Lord, kill this phantom, swinging, gaping hole sensation. I am still a child, raging in my bed. Can you hold us both?” The words seem urgent but the song itself is cooler, reflective, like so much of the album — a soft compliment to the fast-paced world, which demands we craft our identities outward, and speak louder.

Our identities, however, are often loud enough on their own, as is illustrated on the ninth track, “Someone to Change My Mind.” It’s a song about self-righteousness and the bankruptcy of it, a song which describes being of a particular mind that doesn’t satisfy, yet needing to be spun around by someone else.

“Why am I pure in my own mind: a strong column of white light? I know I’ve been lonely and restless as the rest. Still, I am feral, dressing my best. All I heard was a laughing bird. Jesus Christ, he loves us very much.”

The above lyrics prove that Lowland Hum’s poetry is as delicate as ever, but this time, there’s also a cutting-edge to it, a quiet unashamedness — even a playfulness — which faces up to the truth right where it meets us. The song ends with “Jesus Christ, he loves us very much.” It’s plainspoken, and true. Even with its sincere vulnerability, this album is also in many ways Lowland Hum’s lightest yet: even a casual listener can hear that Daniel and Lauren are comfortable with their subject matter, singing easily, and that there’s a pulse of levity behind it all. Daniel explained:

“We laughed at ourselves more, during the process of tracking, but also in the writing. I don’t think lightness excludes fragility, but I think that, although we are exploring vulnerability and limitation a great deal, realizing our smallness also results in deep sighs of relief. We offer ourselves, a small thing, and that’s all we can do.”

Perhaps this lightness is best expressed in their leading track, “Palm Lines,” which paints a colorful scene in which we find ourselves climbing the mountainous the terrain of a massive hand — perhaps the hand of God. “You hold out your hand…palm lines mirror the rise and fall of the land…we imagined ourselves tiny in your hand, climbing the terrain of your soft skin, meanwhile carried forward safely within.” It’s an adventure, in a sense, but also a statement of childlike faith, that we are not ultimately in control, and climbing the terrain of something much bigger — and not only bigger but compassionate, caring, a thing which knows exactly where we are and where we’re going. This sense of smallness and levity also finds its way into the meandering “Folded Flowers,” a personal favorite:

Let me see your calm face
Remember that it’s not a race
We’re just folded flowers

Folded flowers — perhaps made from paper — are handcrafted and flimsy. It’s a song about not having to build yourself; instead, it tells us, we have been personally folded and now exist as a small part of the universe due to the work of someone else. As in “Palm Lines,” we are being carried by bigger and better hands. Lowland Hum’s Thin is a timely reminder that our lives are not our own, and that “frailty is a friend who makes you sleep till the morning.” Here’s to sleeping in every once in a while.

You can buy Thin here.