The Sleeping Years - Into Sunlight

Chris Tapley 13/11/2009

Rating: 4/5

Last year's debut album We're Becoming Islands One by One marked out The Sleeping Years as arguably one the world's finest exponents of introspective acoustic laments. The project of ex Catchers vocalist Dale Grundle pairs an earthy intimacy with expansive instrumentation which combines to make their songs feel a hundred times bigger than they really ought to. These two tracks taken from their forthcoming follow up exhibit similar qualities.

The organic warmth of the strings and guitar melody makes Into Sunlight feel like a wash of brightness flooding in through the window on a freezing cold day. Of course it's possible that it just feels like that because as I write this it is in fact a freezing cold day, but I've given it some serious thought and I think that it would sound the same regardless of temperature. When you layer on top of this Grundle's affecting vocals, which are reminiscent of a more fragile Sam Beam, subtle percussion and tender brass it's difficult not to feel a calm optimism fall over you when listening to this.

It's the b-side Catherine Cove which really shines here though. A beautiful piano piece shrouded in a dark string arrangement which is as captivating as anything by Peter Broderick or Max Richter. This is a potentially misleading reference point though, for as vital as the strings are to the track it's really the consummate ease with which it's married to the group's folksy roots which makes this such a delightful listen. Again with Grundle's reflective empathy drenched vocals threading it all together perfectly. This is an essential addition to any winter playlist.