Rise Above The Mumblings is singer/songwriter Darren Black’s third solo album and his first for six years having worked for the last few years with Deborah Peake as Black Peak. I’ve heard him a few times and enjoyed what he’s done in what felt like his usual role as a go-to support act in these parts. That’s grossly unfair, of course, but his profile has never been terribly high.
Darren plays finger style guitar and fiddle and has pared back his sound on this album to the very basics. He plucks a little violin and producer Kevin Dempsey adds some lead guitar on four of the ten tracks but otherwise it’s just voice and guitar. Dempsey’s contributions are restrained and immaculate but you’d expect that, of course. The songs are deceptively simple and easily accessible but sometimes you have to drill down for his meaning – or perhaps that should be your meaning; the meaning you take from his poetry.
The opener, ‘Leave No Trail’, is about going your own way even though you know that you’ll be on your own and that fame and riches will not be yours. ‘My Snowman’s Melting’ is a song of longing for a returning spring but with hints of dystopia – why must you avoid the dogs, Darren? Guard dogs, a pack of feral hounds or just an unfriendly game-keeper? ‘Time Swallows Time’ and ‘Brevity Levels’ are comments on contrasting lifestyles but neither is exactly straightforward. And so it goes.
I wish Darren – and this album – well. His dues have been well and truly paid and he deserves his time in the sun.
Artist’s website: https://darrenblack.bandcamp.com/
Rise Above The Mumblings is officially launched at The Railway, Winchester on Saturday 1st February.