(Solemn Wave Records, out Fri 22 Feb 2019)
Some of the albums that come to mean the most are those that fail to move you on first hearing. Sometimes, there is something deeper that only shows itself after a number of plays. A first listen to Evi Vine’s new album Black Light White Dark is somewhat of an anti-climax. It takes a little time to get into, but it is worth the wait.
Her 2011 debut …And So The Morning Comes was a fresh and inviting mix of dark, sultry moods and lighter, folk-inspired moments – quite beautiful. If Give Your Heart To The Hawks (2015) explored more of her dark side, then Black Light White Dark dives in head first. Hold your breath and when you come back up for air, you’ll realise it’s good – very, very good!
Fancy a dip? I Am The Waves is a dark and brooding opening track:
“In deep and quiet waters, I’ll play
Let all the fears that carry me, slip away
I’ve been here before
I’ve been empty for so long
One moment in a life you feel alive
A moment unafraid
It could be in the secrets of the night
Beyond the Great Divide
I am the ocean
I am the waves”
The low pound of the bass guitar and drums provide a lush canvas for Vine’s delicate, vulnerable vocals and some tasty guitar work, interlaced with eerie effects, makes this more of a totally immersive experience. Her vocal delivery is ever delicate and finds itself a little lost as the tempo increases for Afterlife which is again driven along by a pounding bass line.
In the band, she is joined by Steven Hill (guitars, keyboards, production), Matt Tye (bass) and David ‘GB’ Smith on drums. Their music explores the dark, elemental nature of the human heart, as well as environmental and post-apocalyptic themes. They create a unique and uncompromising atmosphere, a rare experience that is beautiful, sparse and deeply intimate.
This is another dark and haunting masterpiece as she looks deep into the human psyche. “People are being shaped by experiences in our lives, ghosts of childhood, self-destructive pain and sorrow,” she explains, “all our personal struggles, doubt, and change. I can feel the earth dying and it makes me so sad. We write reflective songs about the circular patterns of man, and reflecting beauty and violence in the world.” Gallup’s powerful bass takes the track to another level while Yates’ guitar and more ghostly orchestration fill the space behind Vine’s vocals.
My Only Son is a raw and moving track, a haunting piano, a few sombre strings and aching sound effects accentuate the pain of loss. “I lost a young friend of mine a couple of years ago. He was a beautiful perfect and imperfect soul. It hurts me now to think of him and the tears come, as they always do. It seems only when I am most troubled in my heart that I write. The words surge forward and I am compelled to write in that moment. You manage grief, the terrible truth that your friend just wasn’t able to make it in this world.”
This is not a long album, just six tracks in total, coming in just shy of 38 minutes and it’s her darkest to date. Beautifully produced by Dave Izumi with Evi and Steven Hill, Black Light White Dark will wring out your emotions and leave you dry. Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water…