July 10, 2019 Lights – Skin&Earth Acoustic (Album Review)
We already know that Electropop phenom Lights has the voice of an angel and can craft a killer acoustic collection, but how will she reinterpret her album Skin&Earth when all the layers are stripped away? The answer to that very question, Skin&Earth Acoustic, arrives Friday, July 12th, 2019, thanks to her new partnership with Fueled By Ramen.
If for some reason you don’t already know, Canadian tour de force Lights is a talented singer-songwriter, guitarist, author, and illustrator. She made her exceptional debut on the scene in 2009 with The Listening, then followed this up with the splendid Siberia in 2011, Little Machines in 2014, and 2017’s conceptual masterpiece Skin&Earth—which accompanied the graphic novel of the same name. Furthermore, Lights’ music has appeared in TV series, commercials, films, and video games, and she frequently collaborates with other talented artists—Silverstein, Owl City, Deadmau5, and Bring Me the Horizon are but a few examples.
Combining her love of both music and illustration, the aforementioned Skin&Earth raised Lights to new heights. So, what is a talented woman to do when she’s hit her utmost inspiration level? Well, reinterpret her previous collection with a minimalist, unplugged approach. The 10-song Skin&Earth Acoustic is exactly this: eight of Skin&Earth’s tracks rearranged and entirely re-imagined, alongside three brand new songs that fit the acoustic mold flawlessly.
Silky smooth atmospherics undulate across the skin as Lights begins her album with “Skydiving (Cliff Recording),” which receives an entirely new arrangement. As with its original incarnation, the track retains its beautifully exhilarating view of a freeing, energizing love, but now the lyrics are placed front and center, and given their chance to shine in their joyful intensity. Next, delicate acoustic guitar welcomes “Until the Light (Truck Cab Recording),” as Lights’ beautifully understated vocals tickle the senses.
Her guitar gently weeps the first notes of “Savage (Rain Recording),” an emotional pouring over the demise of a relationship. The soulful, bluesy grit of the original is not intact here, instead, Lights opts for a heartbreaking intimacy that allows the track to weigh heavier on the heartstrings. Somewhat conversely, “New Fears (Bedroom Recording)” retains much of its original smoky grit, building into an offer of strength through love.
Opening to a cinematically ominous sweep, “We Were Here (Tunnel Recording)” tempers its bold declaration, taking away the dance party and instead placing its emphasis on the idea of leaving a mark. This paves the way for the mellow, sunny beach feel of the sincere love in “Kicks (River Recording).” Then, cycling back to a weeping guitar, “Almost Had Me (Desert Recording” laments a broken promise with whisper-soft intimacy.
A plea for her lover to never hold back, new track “Tabs” continues the acoustic format and beautifully nestles itself among the Skin&Earth material. Another new offering, single/video “Lost Girls” goes for an airy infectiousness and female empowerment, inspiring ladies to climb their way to the top of the world and realize that they are, in fact, enough.
Further delving into awareness, the angelically voiced Lights concludes her collection with the gentle notes of “Down Forever.” Continuing the inspiring power of its predecessor, the mental health-themed track is a promise that life can’t always keep us down. “Don’t be so hard on yourself,” Lights urges. Remember that it’s okay to not always be okay, but that feeling won’t last forever!
Fans should be aware that the arrangements throughout Skin&Earth Acoustic are tailored to perfectly suit the unplugged nature of the album. Put into other words, this is not a collection of songs with clear echoes of their electrified predecessors; each track is reworked and rearranged with tenderness to create a whole new experience that, in most cases, solely shares lyrics with its forebear.
Don’t consider this a blow-off retelling of old material, as instead it is a glorious new adventure! A testament to the talents of a woman who can pick up an acoustic and sincerely deliver her heart on a cherubic platter, this is a no-frills album that once again reminds us of Lights’ endless possibilities. Stripped down but better than ever, Cryptic Rock give Lights’ Skin&Earth Acoustic 5 of 5 stars.
07/24 – Chicago, IL @ House of Blues
07/26 – London, ON @ London Music Hall
07/27 – Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall
07/29 – Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall
07/30 – Philadelphia, PA @ Foundry – Fillmore
07/31 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
08/01 – Washington, DC @ U Street Music Hall
08/03 – Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade – Heaven
08/04 – Nashville, TN @ Basement East
08/06 – Dallas, TX @ Granada Theater
08/07 – Austin, TX @ 04 Centre
08/10 – Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom
08/13 – San Francisco, CA @ August Hall
08/15 – Seattle, WA @ The Showbox
08/16 – Vancouver, BC @ The Vogue
Purchase Skin&Earth Acoustic: