Ralegh Long Creates Spookily Smooth Sound On 'Hoverance'
A folk/rock album with an orchestral twist, Ralegh Long’s ‘Hoverance’ transports you to a place of romantic melancholy and Sunday morning relaxation all in one listen.
Leaving London and returning to the countryside where he grew up, Long’s newest body of work is testament to the impact that a musician’s surroundings can have on their work. Featuring tracks such as "All The Leaves Are Gone" and "Gulls Hovering" (from which the album takes its name), ‘Hoverance’ is a mystical piece that is both intimate and expansive. Long aims to musically express the feeling of being in that indescribable space between city and countryside - his music sits between the natural world and another space. He explains his feeling of ‘hovering between two worlds, the interfusion of the worldly and the not’ - his interest in 20th Century Christian mystics become very evident in the album.
Long’s use of the pedal steel guitar, an instrument more at home in the country/western genre, really heightens this other-worldly sound. Beautiful piano melodies and Long’s warm, comforting vocals sit on top of the wailing pedal steel, creating a rounded sound that glides with the rise and fall of Long’s incredible songwriting. "Beginning of the World", for example, opens with a really jazzy vibe until these disconcerting and almost electronic ‘oohs’ enter with Jack Hayter on pedal steel.
The folkiest number on the record is undoubtedly "The Lizard" where honky tonk guitars take a rhythmic lead on the instrumental track. It feels like a stripped-back Stereophonics number, really showing off Long and his troupe’s musicality.
Although not the best singer, Long’s warm vocal tone is really soothing and is complemented so well by the soft orchestral additions to the album. The moment when the strings softly enter in "The Ride" is a real album highlight for me, the song instantly take a more pained turn, the emotion in Long’s voice almost tangible. This beautiful orchestra, however, is not overused: its subtle presence on the album just lifts the sound rather than dominating the work.
The injection of orchestra into his countryish/folky sound has done wonders for this record. At the core of this album is Long’s intrigue in the other-worldliness of nature and our separation from it, and he effectively transports us into that space. His occasionally eerie sound unsettles, but at the same time his unpolished but warm vocals comfort us. All in all a great album in which Long certainly has accomplished his warm but eerie intentions.
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Words by Graeme du Plessis