21 Sep 2021
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Looking For Alaska - Album Review: Light and Shadow

16 Nov 2020 // A review by Kev Rowland

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to see Looking For Alaska in concert promoting their new album, Light and Shadow. It was a very special event indeed, as while Aaron Gott and Amy Maynard were joined that night by a full band, there was no doubt indeed that the evening was all about the magic created by just the two of them. In many ways the album is a very close reflection of that night, as while they are joined by additional players when the time is right, this is about a couple letting us inside their own very special world. 

When I’m Alone is a naked song; two voices with no room to hide and just a little reverb as Amy takes the lead and Aaron provides the harmony. It may be only two minutes long, but it casts a spell far greater than that, as the listener is immediately invested, feeling this is something very special indeed which we are honoured enough to bear witness to. From here on in we are taken on a journey, with some songs rooted in the blues (All The Broken People), others classic Seventies rock (Where Have You Gone), but always with superb control and wonderful vocals. Aaron is a fine singer in his own right, and even takes some leads, but his real strength is in providing the music as he switches from keyboards to guitars as well as delicately singing harmonies, but Amy’s vocals are something very special indeed. She has a wonderful range, combined with breadth and power, and when in a live environment she reminds me of Janis Joplin, but in the studio she has far more control. Throughout the album her singing is warm, delicate yet with strength, passionate and perfectly in sync with everything being provided by Aaron. 

Listen to them harmonising on Let You Go, and it almost feels as if we are intruding on a special moment as they sing to each other: the restraint is incredible, and even though there is musical backing it feels as the world only exists through their voices, and their voices are the world. There are quite a few musical nuances and tricks throughout the album, such as banjo here and violin there, yet the music is always geared to one aim, providing the perfect support and vehicle for the vocals.  

There is a strange fragility within the album, as it creates a spell which the listener worries will be broken at any point, but there is also a strength which really comes through when listened to on headphones. During Hine Atarau and Lily Amy lets her passion finally boil over as she screams and hits very high notes indeed, but even then, it is kept under control and somewhat muted. 

There have been some very special albums released on Aotearoa this year, and this is one of the finest. 

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About Looking For Alaska

Like two weary vagabonds hitch-hiking along the open road with nothing but a guitar and a suitcase of songs and wayward memories, pop-folk duo Looking For Alaska are ready to set the New Zealand folk scene alight.

Members Aaron Gott and Amy Maynard offer up a sound rooted in country-style guitar and soaring harmonies woven together at their very fibre, intensified by their magnetic on-stage chemistry. The duo's familiarity, closeness and authenticity is fueled by their real-life romance, creating a magnetic performance style that captivates their audience time and time again, and has seen them open for the likes of Fly My Pretties and Herbs, and as a featured act at the Auckland Folk Festival.

Having performed together extensively since they bonded during a recording assignment at music school in 2012, Aaron and Amy embarked upon their newest musical endeavour Looking For Alaska two years ago, and have since worked tirelessly to create a collection of original material, ranging from thigh-slapping, foot-stomping folk sing-alongs, to poignant heart-rending ballads drenched in melancholy.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Looking For Alaska

Releases

Light and Shadow
Year: 2020
Type: Album
Looking For Alaska
Year: 2016
Type: Album

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