Living in Shadows’ debut is a jazzy prog rock delight

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Living in Shadows’ debut is a jazzy prog rock delight

Words by Keegan Bennett

The UK duo released the album last year.

Somewhere between English alt-pop, prog rock and jazz lies Living in Shadows, a two-piece from the UK. Last year they released their self-titled debut record, and it delights with gentle melody and soft instrumentation that is complimented with classic jazz passages throughout.

Living in Shadows’ debut offers listeners an interesting shade of pop music that combines the verbose lyrics of progressive rock with simple instrumentals that don’t try to dress themselves up. This is an album that would be right at home in your favourite café on a cold day or in a reading room with a warm cup of tea.

Zoë Gilby provides vocals across the eight tracks, touching on love, relationships, reflection, and escapism. Certain sections of the album seem pulled straight from a Dream Theatre record, the fourth track ‘Sending Electricity’, with lyrics that seemingly ignore any instrumentation, and flow from bar to bar. On this track, Gilby sings quite literally of the electric transfer that occurs when the brain sends signals to the senses and vice versa. The song is about a physical love of course, “Fingertips touching me, sending electricity” she sings.

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For the most part, ‘Living in Shadows’ fits perfectly into the sort of lounge-jazz that was made popular in the ’50s and ’60s, despite not technically being jazz. Soft guitar plucking and gentle piano accompany every track, all being backed by Andy Champion’s drum work, which is possibly the most-jazzy aspect of the entire project.

Building to somewhat of a crescendo on ‘Postcards’, the album is ended with ‘Smoke & Mirrors’ a nine-minute epic about the downfalls of modernity. On this track, Gilby sings of “demolished, ruined castles, replaced with towers of plastic” and long-lost forgotten dreams. A long piano solo and a healthy dose of snare drum help cement both Champion and Gilby’s jazz roots.

The project is also excellently produced, with ultra-clean recording and mixing helping to bring every instrument to the forefront. The album was mixed by Champion and self-produced by the duo.

Living in Shadows’ debut record is best described as a jazz-influenced prog-rock album. Soft instrumentation throughout makes this an easy listen, but the depth is there if you go searching for it.

Check out ‘Living in Shadows’, out now on Bandcamp or Spotify.