Darlingside’s latest release is an EP of outtakes from 2018’s ‘Extralife.’ It’s fair to say though that any of the songs on ‘Look Up & Fly Away’ would have been well-deserving of a place on that album. This is an exceptionally delicate listen; the intricate wording and stories in the songs are like a peek into someone’s private life, into their passing through life and beyond. It feels a little intrusive at times, but ultimately you feel lucky to have been allowed into something so special.
The opening track ‘Rodeo’ is full of imagery around the passing of time. There’s a real day-in-the-life feel to it with references to the smell of cinnamon toast, dogs playing in the snow and a simple walk to the bus stop. The tale quickly becomes otherworldly: the bus lifts and drops off at a sweeping beachy vista with ice water…”and I think I can see to the end”. The end of the day? The end of life? The mournful horns and harmonies definitely make you believe this is something meaningful.
‘Bright As The Day’ is a beautiful, yet simple song, about summers past set to violins and acoustic guitar. Darlingside can bring the most basic of tale and turn it into something ethereal with ghost references and the whispery delivery of their lyrics. Title track ‘Look Up and Fly Away’ is more uptempo and really showcases the four-part harmonies. They almost sound like a full choir and this song allows them to build energy and create a billowy summery song. At times it feels like it drifts a little, but overall has real impact.
A song about getting back to the basics of your soul, ‘Heart Again’ contains the simple refrain “and I try, to get back, to the heart again.” The arrangement is gorgeous and the harmonies are restricted to the chorus, making the message of soul-seeking even more prominent. ‘Paradise Bay’ brings in a more traditional folky sound, the use of mandolin, and clearer, less shadowy harmonising making this into an uplifting song. The finale of the EP is an instrumental mandolin/guitar track.
‘Look Up & Fly Away’ positively shines as a literary indie-folk offer with often fragile delivery of soaring harmonies.