The Southern Companion have taken various musical strands – country, rock, pop, blues, and Americana – and plaited them together to form a set of songs that make up their latest album, Shine a Little Light. Every song seems to have two or three layers to it, The Southern Companion seamlessly switching between slightly different sounds, mixing it up not only between songs but in them too. It is an album that requires thoughtful, careful listening, not only to allow oneself to be soaked in their interesting soundscape but to pay full and close attention to the lyrics too.
Shine a Little Light opens with Billy’s Brother, which rises out of its initial silence to announce itself in all its heartfelt, heart-breaking glory. It sees The Southern Companion laying bare right from the off. With a running time of over 5 minutes, the song is almost a journey in itself. It is perfectly satisfying as a standalone single. As a result, what follows feels almost like an added extra. Few Too Many Hours continues their raw honesty, whilst Great American Mistake and Already Gone bring a more mainstream commercial sound. Underpinning them all is the breathy, slightly gravelly tones of Darren Hodson. His vocals give the album a laidback, almost reflective feel. He keeps the songs soft on the ear. Whereas a Luke Combs amplifies, Hodson touches his musical notes with tenderness. As such, Shine a Little Light gently blows, rather than scatters, away the January blues.
Of the particular highlights on this album, the chorus of Lie to Me stands out. It is exceptionally punchy, and striking in its emotion. Hodson stretches his vocals without them ever feeling forced. It gives the lyrics a desperation that is empathic rather than melodramatic. Meanwhile, the final track Last Rays of the Sun leaves the album on an ultimately hopeful note. It is uplifting in both its sound and its lyrical content, and is surely the most infectious track on the album. It certainly does what the album proclaims.
Shine a Little Light is a great addition to The Southern Companion catalogue. It adds further weight to their increasing notoriety as one of the UK’s foremost original and creative country/Americana bands. Certainly worth a listen.
Review by Gaz Williams