Just in time for this tough economy—and (less bleakly) for the first day of spring—Asheville’s Night’s Bright Colors releases its newest effort, Late Night by Lamplight. The online-only album (available on Friday, Mar. 20 at www.nightsbrightcolors.com) can be downloaded for free.
The no-cost digital album is in keeping with the times. In late 2007, mega stars Radiohead issued their “pay what you want” online-only album, In Rainbows. Five years earlier, R.E.M. released r.e.m.IX, a remix of the previous year’s Reveal for fans to download free via the band’s Website. In this age of DIY home studios and indie labels, the straight-to-Web tactic seems a logical next step.
“With this new technology, downloading it for free makes more sense,” explains Night’s Bright Colors mastermind, Jason Smith. Printing CDs was a major cost for the musician who felt the pressure to sell the finished product “became more of a focus than it should have.”
A companion disc to last autumn’s First Set Fire to the Stars, Late continues with the nighttime motif, a velvety hush palpable throughout the collection. But Smith’s shimmery, ambient aesthetic is bolstered by pop sensibility with nods to Sparklehorse as well as The Cure. Lush violin (from Lauren Brown) balances sanguine guitar strumming on the all-too-brief opener, “blush.”
The title track pairs Medieval string tones with a Nick Drake-like vocal for something sweetly romantic. The adroitly-named “parry the wind” is a moody meditation on weather as metaphor for relationships. That Smith, a stay-at-home dad, can craft such quixotic material in between sippy cups and naptimes only adds to the starry-eyed spell this album casts.
Smith plans to release the fourth and possibly final album in the Night’s Bright Colors catalog – a concept collection he describes as “evolving or devolving” around a Romeo and Juliet theme—this fall.