Seabuckthorn is the one-man solo acoustic project of UK guitarist Andy Cartwright. He's listed as similar to artists like Grails, John Fahey and James Blackshaw, but I hear him almost as an instrumental version of Splinterskin. Even though his debut album In Nightfall is only slightly over twenty minutes long, there is an unexpected amount of maturity to the material.
Cartwright takes what would otherwise be ordinary acoustic folksy stylings and twists a slightly darker life into them. His music is labelled as “psych-folk,” but it's still intensely difficult to describe the exact nature of the music he creates. It sounds like walking through an empty forest during fall with leaves gently descending on either side of a path and the sun slowly beginning to set on the horizon. It sounds like sitting alone in a graveyard at three in the morning with a cool breeze whistling softly behind your back. It sounds like Andy McKee if he started channelling the soul of H.P. Lovecraft.
What I'm trying to communicate is that this music sounds unexpectedly eerie. It's a rather enjoyable aesthetic, actually. It makes you want to sit alone and experience the sense of autumnal longing the music tries to convey. In fact, the only real fault I can find with this album is that the songs tend to be a bit repetitive. A lot of the pieces are simply longer builds on a single motif with little to no musical exploration. This isn't necessarily a downside, as it only becomes noticeable on some of the longer tracks (“Journeyed Road,” for example). However it does mean the album tends to be a bit unimpressive after listening—let's just say you won't be humming any of the tracks afterwards.
Though I'm straying into unnecessary nitpick territory now, it also feels like there could have been a little bit more to the music—more substance, more material, more everything. I realize that's also part of the nature of the piece; it's supposed to be short and terse, light and mystic. It just left me with my tastes whetted and my mouth watered. I want more from this album, and it feels like a giant tease.
This is certainly an encouraging release, especially for a new artist on a small label. If this album is any indication of his talent, I can't wait to hear more from Mr. Cartwright. I'd certainly recommend In Nightfall to anyone looking for an extremely refreshing acoustic release.
6.5 / 10
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