During a period of excessive touring, singer-songwriter Ralegh Long was at a difficult point in his career. Contemplating whether he should just quit music altogether, ‘Upwards Of Summer’ almost became the album that never was. But after a flight from Japan, in which he came across 10,000 Manics’ ‘In My Tribe’, Long’s excitement returned with pulsating vigour and a new musical direction.
From the offset, opener ‘Take Your Mind Back’ is a jubilant and colourful beginning to ‘Upwards Of Summer’. Full of life, this superb example of power pop exhibits an artist revitalised and brimming with enthusiasm. The same goes for ‘Sleeping On My Dreams’ and ‘Heart On The Line’. Packed with rousing emotion, these tracks are pouring with passion.
The theme of rejuvenation also bleeds into ‘The Combine’, which is a re-recording of ‘Afternoon (The Combine)’ of off 2016’s ‘We Are In The Fields’. Now backed with a full band, ‘The Combine’ has transformed from this delicate acoustic ballad into one of Long’s best pieces.
However, lyrically is where ‘Upwards Of Summer’ unfortunately falls short. ‘Big August’, while the plucking of the acoustic guitars have an idyllic quality to them, the lyrics about summer get old very quickly. Similarly for the title track, its harmonious and symphonic outro is one of the album’s greatest moments, but the lyricism about “beautiful people” and “a little child takes a sip from his mother’s cup” come across as far too twee and cutesy.
Sadly, this impacts the album as a whole. Seemingly covering the same subject matter again and again, there’s not much for those wanting deep and thought-quenching verses. This is a shame, as Ralegh’s sonic change is a welcome one and is successfully embraced and executed by the singer-songwriter.
Serving as an opportunity for Long to keep on growing as an artist, ‘Upwards Of Summer’ laid the foundations, it was just in need of the full blueprints.
Words: Liam Egan
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