The great thing about When Mountains Speak is that it can take any shape the protagonists desire. Sometimes it is a band collaboration; at others, only partially or even a solo creation. And musically, the songs wander between the untethered and exploratory to the more structured and traditionally songlike.

Here, we see another new aspect of this fluid and flexible approach. Now ensconced in a music degree at Berklee, leading Mountain man Steven has gathered the fruits of his study and applied them to his song crafting. The result is a solo piece that, whilst clearly of the When Mountains Speak vibe, also rings with fresh ideas.

Not only from a technical point of view – this is the first song where he has recorded from the heavier end of the sonic spectrum upwards – bass, then organ, then guitar – but there is something new in the music. Sure, the same drift and adventure are tantamount to the same freedom and floating qualities, but it is as if the more formal training that Steven is embarking on has enabled him to find that perfect spot between the structured and tethered and the freeform and fascinating. Stay in school, kids!

Old Fades to New is the perfect title for this piece. It is music made where just enough rules have entered the songwriting space to make it more accessible to those who are perhaps not so comfortable with some of the flights of fancy of such music. Not that these rules, though the word rules might be a bit strong for what is going on here, have taken any of the grace or strangeness out of the music. It is just that sometimes, the correct understanding, the right information and the right, yes, rules, coupled with a free-spirited approach to music making, is the perfect combination to help you find new musical playgrounds and exciting sweet spots between wildness and formality.

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