Lights – ‘Skin & Earth Acoustic’

By Louis Kerry

Acoustic albums are an opportunity to extend a body of work in ways that not only offers a reimagining of the artist’s music but also a chance to get a closer glimpse of the stripped back emotion that goes into their dedicated songwriting process. 

Scarlett-haired songstress Lights is no stranger to baring all, having released accompanying acoustic records to all of her past studio releases. The Canadian has never been afraid to trade her usual electro-pop synths with just an acoustic guitar and her gravitating voice. 

Releasing unplugged reimaginings of her innovative and anthemic fourth album ‘Skin and Earth’, Lights has continued to think outside the box, offering a real look into the soul of the songs. In her own words “what you’re getting in these recordings is flaws”; instead of recording in a standard over-sanitized studio, each song on the new album has been captured in a different location, bringing her music to life like never before. Whether it be in a car or the middle of the desert, the environments she places herself in becomes a vital part of the story, both lyrically and sonically.  

Not only has ‘Skin & Earth’ always sounded deeply personal lyrically, the record is also strongly conceptual. Telling the story of the album’s accompanying comic book series, Lights is a constant creative and the acoustic version offers a new angle for the listener to invest in both her music and the atmosphere of the story she has invented. 

Starting on a clifftop rendition of ‘Skydiving’, you are taken aback by the gentle atmosphere of Lights’ approach. A clear theme throughout the record, by slowing the pace down, it feels like the singer is taking you on a brand new journey rather than treading old ground that’s been heard before. Hearing her perform ‘Savage’ in the rain, delicately whispering the chorus, it creates a more sombre tone to the lyrics. Matching the scene in the comic’s environment, a bedroom recording of ‘New Fears’ puts her perspective of connection with others in a haunting and passionate new light whilst making every chord she plays sound more powerful than any synth could ever do.

‘We Were Here’ is arguably the most inventive and ultimately successful use of Light’s surroundings. Being laid down in a tunnel, the singer’s soothing voice and the euphoric chorus reverberate in inspired fashion. Elsewhere, the inner conflict of ‘Almost Had Me’ shines more than you’d ever expect acoustically, performed in the desert as the personal tale makes you want to reach for the tissues. 

Next to a river, with the calming sounds of a stream of water in the background, hearing ‘Kicks’ stripped back is almost unrecognisable compared to its original recording. Offering new levels of emotion, this version gives you time to digest the lyrics and the natural beauty of Lights’ voice without her usual accessories getting too involved. 

Finishing on three new tracks that will more than satisfy any fan who has been waiting almost two years for new music. The latin-flavoured ‘Lost Girls’ in particular stands out, putting this arc of her story to a close in a spectacular rally-cry fashion, making you want to go paint the town redder than the singer’s hair.

Lights has continued to add branches to the conceptual universe she has created and her delicate new renditions of ‘Skin & Earth’ fits in perfectly. Beautifully crafted from start to finish, her raw acoustic tendencies might be growing in a different direction compared to her usual stye, but the emotional depth of the record grants her songs a brand new lease of life.

Louis Kerry

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