Lighthouse Family pushes forward their sonic narrative on “My Salvation”
Newcastle duo Lighthouse Family took several international music markets by storm in the mid-90s with a pop-soul tinged sonic template that occasionally ran the risk of being labeled as “Easy listening”. To say that their rise amidst the growing popularity of Britpop acts such as Blur, Oasis, and Suede, was unlikely would be an understatement. Lead singer Tunde Baiyewu and producer/songwriter Paul Tucker were undoubtedly not nurturing a sound that was going to position them for critical acclaim suggested an unapologetic authenticity that served them very well commercially. The duo has sold over 10 million albums over a span of six years in the limelight. This is rather impressive for a band that portrayed a wholesome and controversy-free image. More importantly, their last album titled “Whatever gets you through the day” was released soon after the rapidly proliferating phenomenon of illegal music downloading via services such as Napster, Audiogalaxy, and Kazaa.
The duo went on an indefinite hiatus after promoting their third album. In 2011, a return to the music landscape seemed imminent as the duo toured extensively in the UK and Ireland. It appeared that a new album was in the works. The band tweeted photos from the recording studio as they were working on new material. At one point, it appeared that international superstar Sting was in the studio with them. As the levels of anticipation rose among the duo’s fanbase, a rather random tweet from the band indicated that vocalist Tunde was to embark on a second chapter of is solo career (the first chapter manifested itself in the from of his eponymous solo album released back in 2004).
It is safe to say that at this point, not many fans were holding their breath for a Lighthouse Family reunion. Hence, when an announcement for the new album “Blue Sky In Your Head” (scheduled for release on May 3 2019) surfaced a couple of weeks ago, it led to a surge of enthusiasm on Twitter and left many wondering what effect the long hiatus as a duo would have on their creative chemistry and the direction that the new material takes them in both sonically and thematically.
The album’s lead single “My Salvation” saw the light of day on March 21, 2019. It was immediately added to playlists at both BBC Radio 2 (and of course Radio Crème Brulee!). Stylistically, “My Salvation” builds on the band’s last album “Whatever gets you through the day”. Allmusic critics Jon O’Brien hailed this album as a broadening of the duo’s sonic template (a noteworthy example being the album’s uptempo final single “Happy”) with forays into electronica, 60s lounge pop. And disco rhythms. It definitely help dilute some of the fervor of critics hell bent on labeling the duo as purveyors of bland and disposable easy listening fodder. Lighthouse Family seems to be indulging that propensity away from downtempo balladry on “My Salvation”.
The single can best be described as a mid-tempo jam that drifts in a sonic grandeur propped up by cinematic orchestration and beats that are reminiscent of the early 90s hit single “Unfinished Sympathy” by Massive Attack. The song’s lyrics take the from of a string of questions that examine the rationale that propels the trajectory of the song’s protagonist’s existence and the motivation for human behavior.
Comparisons to the defining hits of the band are inevitable especially after a hiatus of 18 years for the band. While the production on “My Salvation” is as lush and invigorating as that of their career-defining this, the song’s chorus is not nearly as memorable as that of their hit singles. That being said, the song does enough to whet the appetite for the rest of the album.
To say that I am thrilled that the duo’s new material is finally seeing the light of day would be quite the understatement. I have always believed that bands that rise to prominence at a time in which artistry and authenticity was a fair predictor of commercial success rarely lose the drive towards musical excellence. Lighthouse Family is no exception. I can barely wait for the release of their new album “Blue Sky In Your Head”.
Here is a full-length lyric video of “My Salvation”:
STAR RATING: 4 out of 5 stars
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