When it comes to discussing an album, there are three categories. One, the music expresses a universal and timeless emotion in either lyric or arrangement. Two, the music creates a distinct and original spin on a particular sound, style or arrangement. Three, the music begets no universal truth and does nothing inimitable. If any band falls into either of the first two categories, it’s a score for me.
Brightblack Morning Light consists of two steady members, Nathan “Nabob” Shineywater and Rachael “Rabob” Hughes, who have crafted a vision for their sound based primarily around respect and love for the rustic, outdoor world. (The two live in a tent or a cabin, depending on the season, in the woods of Northern California.) The natural beauty of the land inspires the songs, inferred from song titles “A River Could Be Loved” and “Amber Canyon Magik.” And this land the band holds so dear is always there, steady and reliable, providing obvious inspiration.
The music itself mimics what is implied: The songs center on a slow but distinct bass line and a fluttering drum backbeat. For the kick, they throw in flickering of guitar, flute, horns and, most important, the Fender Rhodes. The music seems driven (in the most sluggish and soothing way) to transport listeners to their own personal boggy mountain. Most of the material is as impressive in sound as it is atmosphere. This formula is repeated throughout the album’s ten tracks, evoking the sort of ambience and peace you could gather from breaking away from urban society and touching on a simpler lifestyle surrounded by natural beauty.
But is this all the members of Brightblack Morning Light have intended to do? Create art to evoke and promote an image of becoming one with the earth and realizing the magnitude, beauty, and endlessness it possesses and inspires? Is the music, history and presentation just an attempt to raise our awareness? Or is there something more? They don’t answer that question. But they succeed in creating the atmosphere for conclusions to be drawn. Ultimately, this is the type of music that’s fully capable of making profound statements. The conundrum lies in figuring out how to evolve the music and the message at the same time.
“Everybody Daylight” MP3