Looking Over The Red Lights
Perth-based Angus Dawson’s debut album has been a long time in the making since he first arrived on the scene in 2014. In the subsequent seven years we have seen Dawson changed his approach to songwriting, diversify his musical palette and gift us two fine EPs in the form of Ellesmere Street in 2017 and Camouflage in 2018. Now in 2021, we have the arrival of Looking Over The Red Lights, an LP that shows off a myriad of tricks of the trade that Dawson has learnt over the years as he combines electronica and indie-folk into atmospheric and poignant musical soundscapes.
First single Change/End is representative of Dawson’s skill at mixing electronica with indie-folk to great effect. The track features shimmery keyboard and vocal loops that depict Dawson’s struggle with having to change or else have his relationship end, singing “I didn’t want you go/ I didn’t want it to end like this/ I know now that you had to go/ Because one of us had to change.”
Atmosphere is also a standout track. Beginning with syncopated beats and an ambient vibe, the song builds into its lush and expansive chorus that contains the line “I pull away, but you pull me back right in,” illustrating Dawson’s struggle at trying to move on from his relationship.
Elsewhere, the album’s eponymous track opens with a sweeping array of organic and electronic strings from which Dawson’s tender vocals emerge. The track is about the little moments of beauty in life, such as when Dawson caught a beautiful sunset tracking above the red traffic light he was stuck at.
Sydney stands out from all of the other tracks due to its lively dance beat and hypnotic-trance lead. However, the track’s production is derivative and flat, and the track, while catchy, fails to progress or build to anywhere in particular. By lacking the punchiness present in songs of the EDM genre, the album doesn’t gain much from its inclusion.
However, this is but one misstep in an otherwise very good outing for Dawson. < is a beautiful, heart-wrenching moment that is akin to Ed Sheeran at his most vulnerable. The violin soars over the gentle acoustic tones and Dawson’s plaintive vocals portray the song’s theme of unrequited love.
This song’s partner track, >, closes the album and features Dawson’s vocals affected by a vocoder and in general, Dawson takes a more positive outlook than he has on the rest of the album as he looks to the future with hope. Listeners might also look to the future with hope, hope that Dawson will return despite this album’s live launch reportedly being also his last live gig, as this is an impressive debut LP.