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Synth Album Review: "Long Way Home" by Blackpoole

Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.

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Overall Impressions

Long Way Home by Blackpoole is a neon-drenched, melodically focused synth journey that combines a powerful retro sensibility with emotional depth. Strong vocals and lyrics that touch the heart add even more feeling and depth to the music to create an enjoyable listening experience.

Blackpoole’s ability to write well-crafted melodies is showcased on Long Way Home. The melodies are clear and memorable while still holding powerful emotions within them. I enjoy how the melodies drive home the feelings within them while remaining accessible. I am a sucker for melodic content and this album delivers on that score.

The vocals and songwriting ability that Blackpoole demonstrates on Long Way Home are another strong part of the album. His voice is gentle and caressing. Timecrawler82 also contributes his own distinctive voice to the music, deepening the quality even more. I especially like how emotive and tender the songs on the album are. Blackpoole has a good handle on how to express love and hope in words.

Long Way Home’s synth palette is unabashedly retro, but it gets used in an engaging way on the album. Blackpoole is content to explore the different synth sounds without consciously trying to emulate ‘80s music. The end result is layered, interlocking synth-based music that respects its roots while moving forward.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed

“I Drove All Night” starts out as gently ticking percussion and the undeniable warmth of a classic synth sound rises. Wide-open arpeggios circle and suffuse the music with glow before the big, retro drums throb into life. The bass adds forward motion as bright chimes sparkle through in easy flashes.

The resonance and lushly caressing timbre of lead synth is well-suited to the delicate and tender melody, fully expressing soothing feelings. The music glides as the round synth slips through and chimes shimmer over the wide, slowly turning arpeggios. The chimes add more light to the music while the drums provide subtle guidance for the other musical elements.

The lead synth has a string-like feeling as the higher, smoother melodic accents contribute more emotion while fragile arpeggios dance. Medium-low, luminescent synth carries soft note patterns, reverent synths add misty shine and the oscillating bass and gentle drums keep up their pulse.

A darkly oscillating bassline and expanding, modulating synth arpeggios undulate to commence “Over The Line.” The bassline develops into a distinct throb which guides the music as the shadowed arpeggios expand and contract. The drums shape the music further and the lead synth has a low, brassy quality as it carries the bittersweet, dreaming melody.

Whirling, evolving arpeggios spin and a distorted, medium-low synth carries a melodic line which yearns and reaches out over the driving drumbeat. As the synth tone becomes sharper and more nasal, I enjoy the way the melody’s emotions intensify with the change. Shining synth climbs, tinged by tragic emotion and the bending, climbing synth melody unfolds.

“One Day” comes to life with a sweeping, trembling synth surge, a steady bass pulsation as a ticking drum becomes a solid beat. The lead synth is medium-low and tinged with gruffness as it carries the swirling, poignant melody through the song. The drum heartbeat shapes the music and then Timecrawler82’s warm, softly touching voice is ideal to carry the emotive lyrics over the flowing bass and throbbing drums.

Elevated synth slips through carrying its own enfolding melody while the vocals tremble with feeling. Piano-like synths trickle through the song as the drumbeat shapes the music. The “A” section melody returns, so hurting and delicate as the vocals keep on caressing my ears. A slowly undulating synth flow matches the drums and the oscillating bass. The vocals are expressive as piano twinkles in the background to add texture and the song ends on lambent synth.

This song is about a love that may struggle but will eventually carry on. Our narrator talks about all the secrets that the two of them told each other and the feelings “pure as gold” that they shared. He goes on to say that they’ll trust in the odds after all the moments they shared.

In the chorus, the narrator repeats that one day after they were “wishing all for good” it was understood that eventually they’d be “coming back so near” and all of their doubts would vanish again. Now their love is “hidden in the clouds of time” but it’s waiting to shine again. Their hearts are still “beating two as one” and the promises they gave each other “can’t be undone.”

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Metallic, xylophone-like sounds echo out into open space as waves of dense, soothing synth rise below them to open “Always” along with a slowly pulsing bass line. Solid, open drums come in to shape the music while gleaming synth with sonic breadth climbs in slowly shivering notes as chimes sparkle.

Blackpoole’s voice delicately touches the song, carrying the equally loving and tender lyrics while the tremulous synth melody brushes over the steady drum drive. The melody laps like pink waves on a aquamarine shore as the drumbeat propels the song.

All of the auditory elements radiate softness and ease while the glittering chimes accent everything in sunny glow. Piano notes float along like dandelion seeds in the wind and the solid beat guides the music. The whole song radiates caring, hope and dreaming as it unfolds.

This is a song about the hope for love in our lives. The narrator talks about how we hope our love’s “on their way” and is always here to stay. He yearns for it to always be true that it “happens to me, happens to you.”

Our narrator expresses his further hope that his “love’s on their way” and that love will save the day always. He repeats that it happens to us all and that’s always true. Now he focuses on the object of his affections and says he’s “calling your name, emotions to tame, always.”

The narrator talks about how this emotion “just happens to me” and adds that it’s all about the other person. As the song concludes, he talks about how the person to whom he’s speaking happens to him “like a dream come true."

“Long Way Home” comes into existence as shadowy bass shifts below sustained, elevated notes that drift in long, melancholy lines while the drums begin a heavy-hitting throb. String-like, medium-low arpeggios intertwine and spin out behind the wandering synth chords that glide along.

Blocks of minor key, wide-feeling synth drift in to add more deep sensation and the slowly revolving, undulating arpeggios add a measure of aching, enfolding emotion. The soothing quality of the arpeggios balances the lower, more shadowed parts well.

Drums skip along in a guiding line while roaming, lost-feeling synth slips through. The main melody shifts to a higher, rough-edged synth carrying a rising melody that still hurts over the drums as they pulse along.

A misty swirl of gliding synths is accompanied by a steadily ticking drum and punctuated by a kick drum that hits and fades out as “Back for Good” starts off.
The solid bassline throbs underneath all of the other musical elements to lift them up.

Slipping synth flows are joined by a melody that unfurls in a relaxing exhalation. Jazz organ-like synth carries the yearning, nostalgic melody before the emotive sax calls out, full of reedy expression.

The sax is the heart of this track as it delivers emotions that run the gamut from heartache to a powerful sense of belonging. The sax’s voice adds another layer of feeling to the track while the lead synth is dreamy and floating. Below it all, the drums and the bass shape and direct the music.

Conclusion

Long Way Home is an emotive, expressive synth journey full of caressing feelings, melodic beauty and a pervasive gentleness and ease. I hope that Blackpoole keeps exploring synth-based music and bringing me more enjoyment as he does so.

© 2022 Karl Magi

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