Album Review: Katharine Aly – Shadows are Made of Light Too


For Katherine Aly, shadows are not merely negative space, darkness shunned and kept to the sidelines, overlooked. They are complex, living spaces to be explored, even celebrated. In her vibrant debut album, Shadows Are Made of Light Too, Aly fills in every inch of space with her bold, bombastic sound, highlighting painful as well as joyful emotions. Across its eight densely- packed tracks, the album alternately bubbles with excitement, seethes with tension, and glimmers with uncertainty.

The Greek-born, Edinburgh-based singer wastes no time in getting started, announcing opener ‘Glow & Ignite’ with angular, flashing synths. This also happens to be the album’s best song, its swinging, doo-wop-inspired chorus irresistibly melodic. Across the album, Aly’s use of girl- group-style backing vocals is juxtaposed with harsher, more modern instrumentation, evoking the Supremes one moment and Lady Gaga the next. But Aly outstrips conventional pop in sheer force of sound. The almost stifling atmosphere of distortion and drama on ‘Hype Up’ or the incendiary climax that is final track ‘Butterflies’ wouldn’t be out of place on Eurovision.

On the other hand, the album’s softer tracks are where Aly’s emotional and philosophical songwriting really shines. Steeped in shimmering mystique, ‘Maybe in Another Life’ considers whether one lifetime is merely part of a greater journey to fulfil the soul’s potential.

Most beautiful of all is ‘Rules’, a pared-back ballad furnished with deep piano chords and gorgeous fluid vocal runs. ‘Rules don’t follow me,’ sings Aly commandingly. And, with this daring first LP, it’s not hard to believe her.

This also happens to be the album’s best song, its swinging, doo-wop-inspired chorus irresistibly melodic. Across the album, Aly’s use of girl-group-style backing vocals is juxtaposed with harsher, more modern instrumentation, evoking the Supremes one moment and Lady Gaga the next. But Aly outstrips conventional pop in sheer force of sound. The almost stifling atmosphere of distortion and drama on ‘Hype Up’ or the incendiary climax that is final track ‘Butterflies’ wouldn’t be out of place on Eurovision.

On the other hand, the album’s softer tracks are where Aly’s emotional and philosophical song- writing really shines. Steeped in shimmering mystique, ‘Maybe in Another Life’ considers whether a lifetime is merely part of a greater journey to fulfil the soul’s potential.

Most beautiful of all is ‘Rules’, a pared-back ballad furnished with deep piano chords and gorgeous fluid vocal runs. ‘Rules don’t follow me,’ sings Aly commandingly. And, with this daring first LP, it’s not hard to believe her.

Shadows Are Made of Light Too will be released on 10th June via Metro 13 Records

By: Zoë White


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