With the album title and opening song focusing on breaking away, you’d be forgiven for thinking Exit Light by Raveloe is a record driven by change and wanderlust, but the artist has created a much broader consideration on the merits of leaving, or making the most of what you have.
Not since Sly and the Family Stone got their smooth groove on has runnin’ away sounded so vibrant and energetic, and opening track ‘Countertop’ is an apt one, setting a theme that carries throughout the record. More importantly, the musical heart of the album is laid bare here too.
Throughout Exit Light and its many intriguing and pleasing sections, certain things stand out. The swooping melodies that dive in from nowhere, the changes that stop you in your tracks and hare off in a different direction, and the guitar workouts.
The opener is a great introduction but equally, it’s far from the full story. The enticing melodies are present on second track ‘The Chair Is Nowhere’ but here, its plucking strings and a sense of mystery that carry the song. It’s almost a cliche for reviewers to name drop Nick Drake these days, but here it’s an apt comparison to make for outsiders looking to find their way into a new artist. There’s genuine emotion playing out, and depending on your mood, it might be fear, sorrow or intrigue.
Having a stage name helps a solo artist bring others in, and there’s no denying Exit Light is emboldened by the presence of others. Jill O’Sullivan adds considerable energy, both uplifting and foreboding, in her appearances, while ‘Old Lessons’ is powered home with impulsive drums from Peter Kelly.
The woozy haze of ‘Ghost Beach’ not only provides the album with its title, the track’s position at the centre of the record acts as a ballast. The drone provides a homely feel, and the unhurried pace places you at ease.
Closer ‘Keep Count’ ensures we finish on a high, bristling with anxiously optimistic energy and galloping percussion. The shadow of Laurel Canyon hangs heavy here, venturing from folk to psych and rock, particularly when the vocals wail, creating a swirling, hypnotic finale to a record.
Amidst the swooping time changes, the fascinating musical lurches, soaring guitar notes and variety of styles that ensure you can never relax, there’s an aching beauty throughout the record. Lyrically, Raveloe is a storyteller who takes you near and far, but it’s the music that stamps your ticket for the real journey.
From the debut EP Notes and Dreams, Raveloe has been an artist to immerse yourself in, allowing yourself to uncover layers and new gems over time. Exit Light is a stylish realisation of this, offering listeners a chance to shut themselves off from the world for a while and find a new place that feels like home.
Exit Light is released on 10th November on Olive Grove Records