This seminal record sees Annie Booth move away from her usual duties as an integral part of Edinburgh’s rising dark-pop outfit, Mt. Doubt and instead explore a newfound elegance to her own sound. The creative freedom that comes with any solo project is eminent right from the off with the opener, Demons. The track is a whirl of palpable self-doubt and introspection cut with naked acoustic guitar. Things quickly develop and suddenly we move into a fuller folk-rock sound with orchestral-sounding electric guitars leading into the coy, Over My.
The single, Chasm, is easily the most upbeat song on the record. The punchy bass line and honeyed guitars provide a pacy backdrop for Booth to let rip with her angsty vocals, something not so common on the rest of An Unforgiving Light. Chasm is also well placed, right in the middle of the record, to give this first effort a clear structure, something often lacking on debut albums.
The final three tracks are, arguably of course, unparalleled in beauty and grace. There’s a nod to Scottish contemporary KT Tunstall on Solitude, with Booth’s emotive rasp reminiscent of Tunstall’s early songs like Heal Over and Through The Dark.
Reverie manages to capture the aura of this debut album with both musical and lyrical tropes from earlier songs returning in a fitting bookend with echoes of Rachel Sermanni’s inimitable style coming through on the chorus.
The final number, The Line, fully reveals the sonorous beauty present in all of Booth’s compositions. Alongside the lustrous piano, the piece includes guest vocals from Mt. Doubt frontman Leo Bargery who’s baritone effortlessly interweaves with Annie Booth’s reverberating trill. The subtlety to the last line, “Its beauty in the shadows, its solace in the rain”, is the perfect epilogue.
An Unforgiving Light is out on Scottish Fiction and Last Night From Glasgow on the 20th of October.