One of my favorite albums of 2023 so far has been Really Early, Really Late, arguably the finest release by The Declining Winter to date. Filled with melancholy atmospherics, sparse arrangements, and Richard Adams’ mournful voice, it’s the perfect album for chilly autumn days — much like the one that Lincoln’s experiencing as I type this. From my review:
When I reviewed the album’s first single, I said the band’s music possessed an “elegant dreariness” that’s perfectly suited for the stark, tedious days between Christmas and the spring thaw. “Elegant dreariness” may sound like an oxymoron or back-handed compliment, but Richard Adams and his various collaborators really do find beauty in the doldrums through striking, even abstract natural imagery (“Song of the Moor Fire”) and the lush, slow-burning arrangements that characterize songs like “The Darkening Way,” “Project Row Houses,” and “This Heart Beats Black.”
The recent video for “This Heart Beats Black” — which was shot by epic45’s Ben Holton, who also performs on the album — is filled with the sort of imagery you’d expect for a Declining Winter video: loads of autumnal and arboreal imagery, blurred suburban imagery, shots of empty rooms. It’s all pretty abstract, natch, but exudes a contemplative melancholy that’s right in line with the song, and the rest of Really Early, Really Late.
In related news, the band’s embarking on a brief tour alongside epic45, which has originally been planned before COVID shut everything down. Also, Richard Adams and Jason Sweeney have just released a new Great Panoptique Winter album, titled This Time Alone, on the Sound in Silence label.