Gabrielle Aplin – Light Up The Dark Review

Gabrielle Aplin’s second studio album Light Up The Dark is here as she attempts to draw a greater emphasis on a more rock orientated and anthemic second effort to follow up from the very gentle and safe debut with English Rain in 2013. That was an album full of light, English Folk music like so many others now and particularly at the time so it wasn’t really an album that showcased her talents beyond her trickling acoustic chords and hushed vocals. Lucy Rose had a similar problem and opted for an injection of electronica for her second album earlier this year. Light Up The Dark is an album of redefinition for Gabrielle and is unusual for being a second album that’s doing so and she has little to lose in that sense.

The title track is aptly that one that is most demonstrative of her change and sounds a little like a lost Noel Gallagher track in terms of it’s structure and musicality. Here Aplin injects much more life into the sound however and shows that yes, she has a voice! It’s a powerful vocal that doesn’t sacrifice any of it’s delicacy that we already know, but shows that can pack a punch in that sense. Beyond this the track expels bursts of sound from prominent guitars and piano strikes. ‘Skeleton’ offers up distorted guitar hits into a piece of Pop Rock and gives Aplin the opportunity to expand beyond the airy pop music of the verses to something with more presence in the chorus. This gives her a greater scope with the song’s progression and she achieves the transitions between each sound well though a consistent rhythm. Though a comparatively steadier track compared to the title track, ‘Slip Away’ still offers up sharp percussion and delicately placed riff with the scope to push to tonal peaks throughout and for Aplin to follow suit with her clearly developed vocals. ‘Sweet Nothing’ is a track maintaining the more lively and energetic feel of the album, but in terms of the method it’s a little dry and not dissimilar to her debut album. There’s snappy percussion and sweet backing vocals which creates a track you’ll feel already too familiar with and this restricts her vocals too, which she’d already proved are beyond the soft nudging swoons she offers us here. It is a nice little track in isolation and is a catchy and joyful tune, but it’s very safe territory for Aplin and much less of a song than her title track.

One of Aplin’s main intentions when creating her music is not to be restrained by her successful cover of “The power of love” which was featured on John Lewis’ 2012 Christmas advert. “Otherwise my life is going to be Christmas” She says. In all honesty, there are elements of ‘What Did You Do’  that remind me of nothing other than December 25th, especially the chiming piano, but with the songs she’s released so far she has certainly proved she can distance herself from her cover work. The lyrics of “What did you do?” cry hopeless romanticism, but I doubt we’ll ever know whether or not these are from her own encounters, as Aplin has said in the past that she writes about situations that aren’t necessarily related to her own experiences. ‘Fools Love’ is a more soulful track and offers up nice melodic combinations with Aplin’s vocals and the piano chords and in general is a cool and slick track which she leads very well in a effortless manner. ‘Anybody Out There’ gives us a track led by a echoed, grinding guitar with a stomping percussion behind it. This track shows Aplin’s ability to use the light and depth of the track to generate a more hard hitting and powerful track which this is. The remaining tracks offer up more finely tuned acoustic tracks and a pacey track akin to some of Florence and the Machine’s earlier tracks. This album is certainly not going to set the world alight by any means, but it is a marked improvement on her debut and has allowed Aplin to develop her own sound and style and showcase herself more as a songwriter, musician and vocalist. A solid album from a solid artist.

Gabrielle Aplin – Light Up The Dark = 6.5/10

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995  &  Hannah Crowe

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