A high school physics teacher once chastised us for suggesting that the apparently simple concept of ‘cold’ had any scientific basis. What we had previously identified as cold, we were told matter-of-factly, is in fact an absence of heat – something must have energy to exist. In the thermal realm, only heat has energy. And, our erstwhile teacher continued, notwithstanding the incredulity of the class, the same conceptual argument applied to what we claimed to be dark.
It’s unlikely that Liz Stringer gives a rat’s proverbial about such scientific an explanation. And that’s why when science fails, art triumphs. Stringer’s latest record, Warm In The Darkness is every bit as invigorating as a high school science class is frequently tedious.
Warm In The Darkness is a noticeable departure from Stringer’s previous releases. There’s still a good supply of folk-infused country ballads: the touching narrative of Angela, the soft and tender Love, Love, Love and the warm embrace of Stay With Me Here. Yet the striking aspects of Warm In The Darkness come when Stringer, and her tough-as-nails backing band launch into classic rock’n’roll territory. In Anybody’s Language is a classic rock track worthy of perpetual popular commendation, Glutton offers a veneer of dirty Muscle Shoals rock over a soft interior and It’s A Long Way Down renders alcoholic misdemeanour in elegant pop sensibility. With Colourblind Stringer commands the oft-violated soul-rock genre with the vocal dexterity and empathy of a southern Baptist preacher leading a Sunday morning congregation down the path of righteousness.
The mere notion of warmth in darkness would be enough to send the aforementioned physics teacher into apoplectic scientific fits, but does that matter? When you’ve got a record like this, science doesn’t enter into the equation. Just sit back, listen and enjoy.
BY PATRICK EMERY
Best Track: Colourblind
If You Like These, You’ll Like Theis: ARETHA FRANKLIN, DRIVE BY TRUCKERS, NEIL YOUNG AND CRAZY HORSE.
In A Word: Soul