Soft and Slow
Nick Talbot’s Gravenhurst is an alt-folk songwriting project, one part soft acoustic work à la Nick Drake and one part atmospheric soundscape. New album The Ghost In Daylight is the artist’s first in five years, and it’s a subtle affair—it addresses themes of life and death in muted sounds and Talbot’s reedy, Elliott Smith-esque tone. It’s a folksier, gentler album compared to his last work, 2007’s The Western Lands. Subtlety can be a hard line to walk, but Gravenhurst’s most recent offering frequently keeps its balance.
Especially against Western Lands, Ghost seems to take Talbot in a significantly different direction. Besides its softer bend, there are elements of everything from early psychedelia to Simon and Garfunkel-style harmonies (especially in opener “Circadian”). Elsewhere, finger-picking is met with shimmery reverb and synths; the buzz behind “Fitzrovia” or the string-laden end of “The Prize” are some of the album’s most evocative moments. Indeed, if there’s any word to sum up Gravenhurst it would certainly be ‘evocative’- his introspective lyrics float over moody swells to perfectly convey the songwriter’s own inner workings.
There’s no question that The Ghost In Daylight requires patience; it’s not an album that grabs you at the first listen, and it doesn’t seem to be meant to. There are certainly moments where it falls a bit flat, but others absolutely continue the trajectory set forth by Gravenhurst’s earlier work. The album is poignant and lovely; it will both move you and soothe you.