By Robert J. Bayley
The Light (Her Hands Were Leaves) feels remarkably traditional in Scottish folk given Alexi Murdoch’s upbringing. Raised in Greece before moving to America where he rose to success, perhaps it’s because of this Murdoch has so reverently clung to the old sound of his Scottish father’s homeland.
Taken from the Towards The Sun album (released in April this year) The Light is haunting in its simplicity. It’s very much a tonal piece, a simple construct that seems to capture mood of mournful contemplation. The lyrics, again, simple and straight-forward emphasise the feel of the song. Murdoch’s lyrics of family identity are delivered in a casual way that’s reminiscent of Dick Gaughan’s slower tunes. Murdoch’s voice, while not being as affecting as Bill Callahan’s (particularly in Vessel in Vain from the brilliant film Dead Man’s Shoes) does deliver the lyrics with authenticity. Unlike the music of Smog however, it does allow Murdoch’s voice to more seamlessly blend into the tapestry of the music and create an atmospheric, all encompassing soundscape.
The video however, is less impressive. One can see the direction the creatives were trying to take, but it’s a very easy, well trodden one, and the tropes of style (extreme close-ups, off-centre angles, drifting in and out of focus and mood lighting on the single figure against a black background) as so determinedly adhered to here that it becomes self-parodic.
All in all it’s not a track that massively moves the listener, but that would be like saying DragonForce isn’t particularly meditative; it’s not supposed to be. It’s an undulating, calm ocean of a song that sets very pleasant, if not particularly brilliant, mood.