All The Luck In The World – How The Ash Felt
When an album is described as being something which “easily fades into the background”, it’s usually a term offered as criticism. It denotes a record that feels forgettable, one that fails to grab your attention to such a degree that your brain just subconsciously starts tuning it out. This does present a problem however, when it comes to one of those rare times where an album embodies “background music” in the best sense of the term.
In the world of film and TV the best soundtracks aren’t the ones that jump out at you and try to steal the spotlight, rather it’s the ones that barely even register. It’s the part of the score that so perfectly sets the tone of a scene, that captures the feel of a place or time, that instils in you the exact emotion that the film is trying to evoke in that moment, and in doing so becomes seamlessly woven into the very fabric of the scene. The best parts of a score, much like the most impressive feats in visual effects, are the parts so good at their job that you don’t even notice them.
How The Ash Felt makes for ideal background music in the most cinematic fashion. Here is the kind of album that can make even the most unremarkable of days feel like something from the silver screen. A record which turns your grey, dreary commute into a movie scene; one where every raindrop is framed with a beauty that would otherwise escape you, and which lends a gravitas to all the feelings that grace your heart in that moment. Rather than being the kind of music to offer you an escape and whisk you off someplace else, it accentuates the world around you in moments of introspection.
Irish trio All The Luck In The World have reinvigorated their sound to great effect on this, their third album. The base folk framework is at its strongest, with their harmonies and intricate, delicate guitar work shining their brightest to date on tracks like ‘Equinox’ and album highlight ‘Rue de l’Enfer’. But above it all is a greater sense of experimentation with electronics. Whether it’s through building subtle layers of atmosphere, or providing fleeting little flourishes with superb attention to detail. Lyrically the record shares glimpses of grief and heartbreak, a sense of feeling adrift and uncertain. Yet the moments of vivid imagery and the memorable one-liners, as great as they are, don’t offer much of a window into the deeper meanings and inspirations. Even so, this just serves to add to its charm as the perfect score for introspection, as it allows you room to affix your own meaning. For all those moments where you feel small and insignificant there’s an empathy within the carefully crafted atmosphere, and in all the flourishes that shimmer and fade like light dancing on rippling water you can feel reflected the feeling of trying to cling on to fleeting moments in time.
Looking back at the music I’ve covered on Belwood Music that has had the most plays over the years, I believe the list would be dominated by this kind of cinematic background music. Not necessarily the most invigorating, affecting or ambitious albums, but rather the ones I find myself returning to all the same, time and time again, like some kind of musical comfort blanket. How The Ash Felt offers just that; and while you need to be in the right mood for it to slot into place as the ideal score for your day, when everything aligns it’s an absolute delight.