It’s been just over five years since Darren Black last released a solo album but since his departure from Black Peak he’s been working feverishly on creating a host of new songs that have come to make up this third solo studio album, Rise Above the Mumblings.
Sometimes in life there is a merciful silver lining that appears and Black’s departure from Black Peak had one of them. While the music they created together was wonderful, it’s really nice for us to get back to hearing some of his solo work again after so many years away. Rise Above the Mumblings is a terrific return to form for Black as he audibly embraces his newfound freedom and indulges his own musical desires to his every whim. A large part of what makes the album so impressive is the unique nature of the sound as Black ingrains himself in every single note.
As ever, his music is impeccable; finely honed and plucked strings, songs peppered with simplistic melodies that sway and charm you. In his strings there is stored a very unique sound and that is the sound of spring – plucky, bold and whimsical, yet never overpowering and eloquent beyond compare. Complimenting his tender chords is his clear and earnest voice. Black has a soft and expressive voice that sounds as though it were always designed specifically for folk music. When his vocals intertwine with his music the result is magnetic – instantly attracting, drawing you in and flooding over you as he tumbles you along in his lively tales.
It isn’t only musically that Black excels however; his lyrics place him as close to the blurred borderline between song-writer and poet as it is possible to be. His songs are always intelligent, concise and deeply thematic. Rise Above the Mumblings contains a total of ten songs, ranging from questioning elements of financial ruin to the concept of time. His lyrics have a depth to them that is seldom seen in modern day music and even the more comical sounding songs such as My Snowman’s Melting hold within them a tranquil sincerity. That’s another large part of Black’s appeal – sincerity. Everything about his songs comes across as pure, clean and fresh – an audible image of spring. The beauty in them is that even if they’re poignant or questioning, there is still a constant, charming ray of hope that he reserves for the world around him.
We’ve been waiting a long time for Darren Black to get some more solo work out on the market and with a result as magnificent as Rise Above the Mumblings it’s been a worthy cause.
Rise Above the Mumblings will be available from February 1st onwards with an album launch that night at Winchester Folk Club.
For more information on Darren Black, check out his website here:
Review by Joe Knipe