EP Review: Ali Neil – Land Before Us

Al Neil is a singer-songwriter and musician creating gorgeous folk ballads that demand to be heard, due to their beauty. He released a new EP at the start of June this year, titled Land Before Us, and I couldn’t wait to share it after hearing it, as it’s just that good!

By Jane Howkins

There are five songs on Land Before Us, opening up with A Place Called Winter. A steady beat mixes with the acoustic guitar melodies and some quirky, fuzzy backing effects, giving the music a distinctive quality. Ali’s vocals are both soft and raw, showing a great wealth of emotion within them, especially when the song breaks down occasionally, adding some haunting backing vocals and piano lines.

A New York has more of a positive vibe than the previous song, sounding more optimistic, despite the melancholy nature of the lyrics. The little guitar lines that play alongside the main music sound great, pushing the track along to its final conclusion. A synth section comes out of the blue, but it’s well appreciated, adding a little more variety to things.

Edge Of Reason takes thing down a notch, having more of a stripped-down nature to it. It’s possibly my favourite song from the entire EP, having a quiet beauty about it. The female vocals that intertwine occasionally with Ali’s voice sound amazing, especially when mixed with the haunting vocal harmonies in the background.

Damn Life opens in a slightly different manner, mixing synths and some quiet backing vocals together, before a country-esque upbeat percussive beat kicks in. The lead vocals and guitars appear shortly afterwards, with the female vocals appearing once again. The strings are obviously programmed on a keyboard, but they actually work really well with the rest of the music.

Heart Of Man brings the tempo back down again on this understated folk song, taking the music back to Ali’s Americana roots. A little guitar melody weaves in and out of the music, with what sounds like a banjo and the aforementioned synthy strings also vying for attention, although the vocals are still the stand out point of the song.

Ali Neil has created something fabulous on Land Before Us – the music is hauntingly beautiful throughout the EP, displaying a sense of songwriting and balladry that is sometimes missed within the modern folk genre.

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