Shine A Light In The Dark is the debut album from acoustic duo Lorna Somerville and Darren Fisher, four years after their fortunate coming together. Prior to their meeting in Devon, Lorna was surveying bats and butterflies in Cambodia, while Darren was in California playing as many open mic sessions as he could. Since then they've lived on an island in the middle of a canal in Belgium, and travelled far and wide in their trusty camper.
The album is full of gentle poetic beauty, with a musical style that has been aptly described as "dream-folk". The vocal melodies and elaborate arrangements underpin a record of depth and character. At times this plays like the folk offspring of the Cranberries and REM, the latter especially evocative on Drifting By, a toe-tapper of a song driven by intricate guitar and harmonica.
While Somerville's vocals don't have the Irish twang of Dolores O'Riordan, they certainly have the same range and beauty. Mermaid Song is the perfect showcase for her vocals, exquisite and engaging, and it's easy to lose yourself in her voice. On the opening track too, Just A Shadow, her voice captures you and refuses to let you go, aided by Fisher's perfect accompaniment. It builds wonderfully, soaring especially when Fisher's vocals kick in.
The duo are never better than when their voices are joined together. The title track is the best example of this, a cracker of a song at the end of the record which ensures that they finish on a huge high. As the final notes fade, you'll want to click play immediately again.
It's worth noting that they have invited some talented musicians to join the two of them on the album; Alex Pearson on double bass, Ania Job on flute, Gareth Jones on piano and glockenspiel, and Jo Hooper (surely trying to rival Lukas Drinkwater for the title of hardest working musician) on cello. They add subtle tones to the music, but never threaten to overbalance proceedings. They work to highlight the strengths of Somerville and Fisher, rather than stand out themselves.
This is a debut album of stunning quality, and I sincerely hope that it is the first of many for this duo.
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