Half Notes: Light in August, “Northern Lights” (2011)

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From its first dramatic rat-a-tat, this undulating rhythm signature that plays off a driving acoustic riff, “Northern Lights” moves with a persistent ardor. Alex Wand’s vocal runs in tandem, even as the drums recede into the background, until he has finally, definitively captured the center of the song. It’s only then that his lyrics, these soaring sighs of longing, swim up into our consciousness. “You are in the veins,” Wand sings, in a writerly moment that lingers long after “Northern Lights” has concluded, “around my blood.” Wand then pushes his voice higher and then higher still into a cirrus cloud of flute, until he simply disappears — and it’s almost like being shaken awake from a dream. A wonderful dream.

Wand, who also plays guitar and sitar, is joined in the band Light in August — named after the novel by William Faulkner — by Max Stewart on drums, Anne Dearth on flute and vocals, Rachel Woolf on flute and vocals and Jack Henry on bass. Light in August’s “Northern Lights” is featured on the just-released New Arrivals Vol. 4, a benefit project from MPress Records. Proceeds will be directed to the National Network For Youth, a homeless outreach program. Visit mpressrcords.com or nn4youth.org.

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Half Notes is a quick-take music feature on Something Else! Reviews, presented whenever the mood strikes us.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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