The Light Afternoon is a duo from Bournemouth in Dorset featuring Steve Newland (guitars, keyboards, backing vocals, production) and Annette Appleton (vocals). They are studio-based musicians who release albums at regular intervals. Music and lyrics are written by Steve. Some of you old fogies out there may recall my review of the previous album in Rock Society: ‘The History of Mr Puffin Man’ (2017). ‘Among The Family Tree’ was released in March 2014, and their first album ‘My Parallel Life’ was released in December 2012.
It’s been a while since I listened to the band, and straight out of the traps, ‘Wide Open Highway Road Movie’ is a very pleasant surprise. Excellent dynamics, good use of keys and synths, a driving percussive track, a very nice guitar break, and at just over 4 minutes, an excellently concise opener. Most tracks are just around the 5 minute mark which is a very good sign of quality over quality. ‘The Girl from Panorama’ has another similarly percussive vibe, slightly retro, nice breaks and again some excellent keys sounds. I’d venture to say the ambition and ability have increased since my last listen.
‘Anacirema’ continues the retro vein, a cross between Yazoo and Depeche Mode coming across at times but with more depth and subtlety, along with some Nick Magnus and a verse groove akin to Genesis’ ‘Land of Confusion’. An understated melody and subdued guitar support this very good, very listenable track. ‘The Paradero’ is a little shorter, vocals a little more to the fore, and so here’s where I’ll slightly revise a previous review thought: the vocals may influence opinion through their lightly operatic or high-brow delivery. In this album they are actually less intrusive, better used as an instrument within the music, and less frequent, allowing the music to flow. And on this track, they join a more frequently heard guitar among the keys instrumentation to create a compact, concise, extremely clever and well constructed whole.
‘All of These Things’ is another short track, kept simple, a cushion of synth padding, plenty of reverb to create atmosphere, leading to a nice mid-track rhythmic drum and guitar entry. Another definitely retro feel, with some backing vocals reminiscent of Kate Bush and the mid-track rhythm slightly Gary Numan. ‘Watching the Perseids’ enters slowly, thoughtfully and elegantly, gradually building underneath the reflective and poetic lyrics. This gives us time to reflect on the subtlety and breadth of songwriting choices within the album, solid use of dynamics, and overall great choice of sounds.
Title track ‘Estanyo Nord’ is full on retro in most ways, a clever post-verse change taking an unexpected turn to raise expectations, before some ever so evocative keys sounds come in. Similar to other tracks, the guitar comes in late to give depth and beef things up, but it is the keys that remain the start turn. Closer ‘Our Time in the Tin North’ has a moody yet operatic opening, possibly the most dynamically varied and rhythmically interesting track, only in the last minute releasing the tension through full band sound and a guitar solo.
I’m reminded of another self-motivated artist who ploughs his own furrow, Ben Craven. And both of these deserve praise for what they are able to do under the circumstances – and a bit more success!
- Wide Open Highway Road Movie
- The Girl from Panorama
- The Paradero
- All of these Things
- Watching the Perseids
- Estanyo Nord
- Our Time in the Tim North
The Light Afternoon are Annette Appleton & Stephen Newland; they create music and art, they are currently based in Dorset UK, not by intention, more by circumstance. They are getting older, not very cool or hip or whatever passes in 2022 for cool and hip. They like animals such as Cats, Birds and Guinea Pigs.