Review: Light Over There, The Journey

Light Over There, The Journey

21 Apr, 2016 Heath Andrews

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Light Over There is a dynamic, country/pop hybrid duo, spanning the Atlantic Ocean and two different cultures. Aileen Henderson is an Irish singer/songwriter while Rex Haberman is an American singer/songwriter and guitarist with the two of them sharing an interest in American country music. Their 2016 EP The Journey, is their second release and successfully carries on the musical chemistry that the two established on the record prior, even if it’s not quite as strong as it could be.

The EP opens with the lovely uptempo ballad, “Time.” An acoustic rhythm powers the song alongside crisp drumming and Henderson’s amazingly sweet voice. Complimenting her dulcet tones is the serene cry of the pedal steel guitar, an instrument that very firmly establishes the country tone of the piece. Henderson’s voice helps keep some pop elements alive however, given that she doesn’t completely carry herself into the stereotypical country “twang.” Pushing the song from the good to great category are the rich harmonies during the chorus, warm backing keyboards, and a guitar solo that is equal parts aggressive and soothing.

“Do Love Right” follows and immediately picks up the pace. The rhythm track is much brisker with consistently strong drumming and fairly rapid fills. Haberman does some of the lead vocals and this is where the record falters. Haberman has a much more limited range and expression than Henderson. This tone actually provides a great harmony, but when he’s not blending with her voice, the flaws in his stand out more. The rest of “Do Love Right” is wonderfully strong, sporting another fantastic guitar solo and a catchy melody; Haberman should’ve just stuck to the backing vocals.

“Leads Me To Bell Plaine” may be the EP’s strongest piece. The keyboards blend in with the pedal steel in tremendous fashion. This, along with the quick pace and country rock tones makes for a song capable of a great, extended jam. It is the longest track featured here and the way that it rollicks along makes it seem like it’s shorter than it is. The chorus is a tour de force for Henderson’s voice, powering the song’s emotion and bouncy nature.

The next piece, “While We’re Still Young” has a softer sound, established with an acoustic guitar base and a larger focus on the keyboards. The drums are also lighter, establishing a nice little shuffle as opposed to the more powerful snare hits on the previous songs. The songwriting shines here in both the music and the lyric, as the sentiment of the piece is able to come through more strongly with this softer arrangement.

Haberman takes on some more of the lead vocals with “Catch You When You Fall.” Overall the song is catchy, but once again it loses something in the shared vocal duties. The track itself is well written to serve as a duet but the lack of a compelling second vocalist to work with Henderson doesn’t help things. During the chorus, when the two are singing together, the mixing is a delight to listen to.

The Journey concludes with what might be the best song that Fleetwood Mac never wrote, “Off Track.” Henderson sounds like a combination of Stevie Nicks and Emmylou Harris, straddling the line between pop and country in exemplary fashion. The backing vocals are very poppy in the best sense of the word, nailing down a relentless hook that is every bit as engaging as the lead. It’s a fantastic combination of everything that Light Over There does so well, the pop and country, the spot on arrangement, everything is performed and polished to perfection.

For the most part, The Journey plays to the strengths of Light Over There, showcasing much of what makes them such a powerfully dynamic duo. A couple of the songs could be executed better but they don’t detract too much from the EP overall. Aileen Henderson and Rex Haberman have forged a remarkably strong working relationship with each other that has now produced two solid EP’s. The blending of their two styles is lovely, especially in how they’ve come together across continents with a shared appreciation for the country music that they love and perform so well.
Review by: Heath Andrews
Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5)