sun 04/06/2023

Album: Amber Arcades - Barefoot On Diamond Road | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Amber Arcades - Barefoot On Diamond Road

Album: Amber Arcades - Barefoot On Diamond Road

Moody Dutch singer-songwriter puts indie archetypes behind her

Amber Arcades's 'Barefoot On Diamond Road': meticulous

In this context, what’s named “diamond road” is a metaphor for staying on course rather than, as the lyrics of the song “Diamond Road” put it, letting yourself go or sprawling all over the floor. Follow this route and life won’t be a mess.

Barefoot On Diamond Road is the third album from the Netherlands’s Amber Arcades, the recording persona of Annelotte de Graaf. Away from music, her work as a lawyer has brought a role in the international war crimes tribunal. Previously, her music was a form of Eighties-ish indie with touches of shoegazing. Beyond her glass-like voice, guitar was a main focus. This is different. De Graaf has embraced a more electronic approach, initially hinted at by “Turning Light” from her 2016 first album Fading Lines. While there’s a Billie Eilish “Everything I Wanted” drift or odd intimations of “Born to Die” Lana Del Rey, first passes through the new album evoke El Perro del Mar or a less flinty I Break Horses: both of whom are Swedish. A particularly north European sensibility is at play.

Poppiness is balanced with gauzy ruminations. The string-infused “Odd to Even” pulses as de Graaf sings an instant melody. “True Love” is less immediate due to its trip-hop undertow, but is just as direct tune-wise. There’s also a heaviness: “I’m Not There” is punctuated by slabs of noise. The more stripped-down, muted songs foreground the electronic elements and come across as dark clouds in an otherwise blue sky. Lyrics are often about the passing of time or resisting obstructive forces.

Overall though, what’s expressed is a meticulousness. Nothing is spare or superfluous. In adopting this new framing for her music, de Graaf hasn’t abandoned her previous songwriting style but instead given it a fresh context. Fittingly, Barefoot On Diamond Road is her first release for new label. All of which means it may as well be her debut album.


Add comment


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters