Norway’s finest Americana-folk exports Darling West embrace soft seventies disco and glittering cosmic country funk with a new single that feels like a nod to the sun-drenched sounds of Sixties and Seventies California and early eighties post disco New York.
Owing more to Abba than the Americana sound they’ve made their name with, ‘Light Ahead’ feels like a powerful pull towards a brighter future; incorporating bright, shimmering synths that evoke the soft rock touchstones of Dreams-era Fleetwood Mac set to a moony City Pop groove.
“As one gets older, it gets easier to see things in a bigger perspective and know that there is always light at the end of the tunnel,” the band explained to us about the inspiration behind the song. "The hard part is convincing yourself that's the case when you're living through trying times".
"It’s a song we started writing before the pandemic,” Mari Kreken told us. “So to us, it’s about much more than that specific experience. But as time passed - with lockdowns and a more gloomy atmosphere - it felt even more important for us to write to inspire and uplift people, as well as ourselves. The song is about hoping and longing for better times, learning from our past and standing together”.
For the first time, the core of the band – married couple Mari and Tor Egil Kreken – have included fellow members Thomas Gallatin and Christer Slaaen in the songwriting and production process, their sound expanding out into the universe with it.
“Having collaborated with a lot of artists on our Family Sessions on YouTube, we wanted to bring that sense of fellowship to the album as well,” Mari Kreken explained. “On ‘Light Ahead’, we thought it would be fitting to have a powerful voice help us get the message across. Matthew Logan Vasquez is a dear friend and an incredible singer, and we asked him if he wanted to be a part of the song. When we first heard his vocal track back, it brought tears to our eyes. It was a very moving moment for us, and we are so honoured and grateful for Matt’s contribution".
Taken from their forthcoming album, Cosmos, it’s a startling switch up from a band who have garnered critical admiration for their distinctive take on West Coast Americana and folk.
When Darling West decamped to a tiny island on Norway’s west coast to begin writing what was to become their fifth studio album, it would have been hard to imagine just how far they’d end up pushing the boundaries of their sound.
"We’ve taken the leap into producing the album entirely by ourselves, in Chris’ studio. Between the four of us, we have different strengths and ways of hearing things, which you might think would have led to more friction than there actually was. After years of playing together, both in and out of this band, we’ve come to respect and trust each other, as well as being direct and speaking our minds. A little like brothers and sisters, I guess, with all of what that includes”.
Cosmos is released on Jansen Records on March 24th