Dear Darkness – Atoosa Grey (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

There is an assumption in the modern world that artists with a long gap between album releases are somehow out of the picture, that their absence from the endless “hamster wheel of recording and gigging” as a means to an end renders them invisible. 

But, in the ten years since her last album, Atoosa Grey has been as busy as ever. Dedicating her time to her other love, poetry, she has found the time to formally study the craft, have her work published plus teach piano, explore herself as an artist and be a mum. As she points out, “There is light at the end of the tunnel, but sometimes the real enlightenment comes from ruminating in the shadows.”

And back from her shadowed ruminations, she has released Dear Darkness, an often sombre, melancholic album, built of gentle and honest narratives, understated piano lines and lush string waves and washes. But melancholy and misery are worlds apart and there is a real dark beauty found here and a feeling of optimism which only comes from close examination of the soul and a cleansing of the past, a reset of the psyche which sees you strike forth once more with renewed vigour.

Eight songs written on and for the piano, which are then raised, broadened, deepened, explored, extrapolated and added to by the other players, sometimes expanding into a full-band experience, such as on an elegant Night Drags On, though often remaining in their barest form, such as the gorgeously understated Chapters. Other artists could learn a lot about the idea of the music serving the song and not merely playing to fill a space. Space is what makes everything else work so eloquently, and this album is the proof.

There is a brooding quality to the album, as the title suggests, a willingness to embrace the darkness and revel in its mysteries. Perhaps it is only when you spend time in the darkness that you can truly appreciate the light.

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