Review Summary: Lights brings innovation to the art of the acoustic album
The acoustic version of Lights' fourth album Skin&Earth
contains renditions of seven of the fourteen tracks from the original album, plus three new songs which are also acoustic. Instead of going to the studio to record the remakes, Lights recorded a different one of these seven songs in seven different locations. I'm assuming that most people who read this review will already be familiar with the origins of Skin&Earth
, but for those who may not know, the lyrics to the album coincide with a comic book series of the same name written and illustrated by Lights. The locations that Lights chose to record each song are loosely based off of either the locations implied by the lyrics, or actual places in the comic book where Enaia (the protagonist of Skin&Earth
) is located during that part of the story. This gives Skin&Earth Acoustic
a nice sense of variety that I feel is often lacking in most other acoustic albums.
Each song, including the three originals, consists strictly of guitar, some occasional light synths, and Lights' vocals. The production, which was done by Lights herself, is crystal clear. There are some instances, such as in the rain and river recordings, where the setting of the song is audibly evident; but even when it isn't, the difference in acoustics (the general acoustics, not the guitar itself) still capture the aesthetic of each individual location. Even though the original songs are often upbeat and mainly electronic, they translate smoothly into slower, string-based tunes. This is helped by Lights' moody but passionate singing, which is turned down an octave from the originals to accompany the tone of the guitar. The three new songs fit perfectly with the others in both lyrical themes and songwriting. Although these tracks weren't recorded in a disclosed location (probably just Lights' house), they don't feel like outliers in any way other than being new.
brings a breath of fresh air to the art of the acoustic album, which I feel that other musicians should take note of. People don't usually listen to the acoustic version of an album that they haven't heard the original of, so this makes me want to recommend Skin&Earth
just so others can have the further experience of listening to the acoustic version afterward. I don't want to say that I think the acoustic version is better, because the original, along with the first arc of the comic series it accompanies, is very fun and charming. However, Lights has crafted an atmospheric (in a very literal sense) experience that is very distinct and impressive, and that feels like so much more than just a new version of an old album.