Album review: Iamthemorning, ‘Lighthouse’

lighthouse_coverArtist: Iamthemorning
Album: Lighthouse
Our Verdict: 9/10
Release date: Out now
Find it at: Bandcamp
Review by: Graeme Blackwell

Iamthemorning return with their new album: a heartrending, important and profound work

Iamthemorning’s new album, Lighthouse, is a heartbreaking work of staggering beauty. In it the Russian duo of vocalist Marjana Semkina and pianist Gleb Kolyadin have created a suite of music that coheres in a deeply compassionate and empathetic way around the story of their central protagonist, a character navigating the depths of an unspecified mental illness.

The pair’s third full length studio album, and first for British label Kscope, Lighthouse sees Semkina and Kolyadin drawing on elements of progressive rock, folk, jazz and chamber music to create a poignant soundscape that successfully captures the wide spectrum of emotion and states of being that come with such illnesses, outwardly conveying with grace and humanity what is often an unseen inner journey.

The album’s lyrics having been inspired by the life and works of Virginia Woolf (as well as Sylvia Plath), a foreboding watery theme permeates every aspect of Lighthouse’s being. From the exquisitely rendered cover art depicting a lighthouse positioned on a precarious outcrop and set against the overwhelming power of a tumultuous ocean, through the sound of crashing waves that open the album and on through the at-times-bubbling, at-times-churning piano motifs of the music, nature’s most life-giving and yet destructive force is all-pervading.

Mindful that both Woolf and Plath suffered with life-long mental illnesses and that both committed suicide, Lighthouse offers no easy resolution or fragile, feel-good comfort for either its central character or listeners. Those seeking a narrative that ends bathed in a warm and simple light will not find their solace here. That said, this complex sonic odyssey is not without moments of levity and good humour.

In so skilfully telling the complex story of a character who ultimately succumbs to the darkness of their difference, and in doing so with such understanding, empathy and tenderness, Iamthemorning have created an album that is arresting, heartrending, important and profound.

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