Reinvigorating if not reinventing the quintessential girl-with-a-guitar acoustic concept, In-Between mixes intelligent lyrics with unusual organic drumbeats, atypically (brilliantly!) placed backing vocals and a love of music so evident that it ricochets off every strum. Dariti, a regular on the London acoustic scene for a few years now, has a voice that draws you in with its conversational quality. So when she sings about her existential fears in first track ‘Gettin’ Older’ her plain-sung truthfulness is touching where another singer might lapse, martyring themselves on a slab of self-pity. Dariti’s guitar style may owe a debt to Ani DiFranco but it’s immaculately skilled, signposting the way to more where that came from.
The album’s purest instrumental passage must surely be the opening two chords of ‘Out’; evocative and beautiful, the intro speaks volumes alone, and when joined by Dariti’s tender vocal, gently skittering drums and Ayanna Witter-Johnson’s mournful cello, the song comes close to harnessing timelessness itself. Tackling the dilemma of whether to put everything on hold for someone who’s never in the right place at the right time, ‘Go Alone’ also shows Dariti’s knack for bringing out the best in her instrument. Accompanied by djembe and talking drum, she inhabits her frustration with wonderfully manipulated vocals that instinctively convey her message so that, even without words, the meaning would be evident from vocal tone alone. The same goes for ‘The West’ with its awareness of what’s fleeting, its wordless vocalisations and simple but beautifully written lines like “oh but Fortune will lift you off your feet / and dance to the sun setting West / and we’ll drink Grenache in the garden / and count down the days that are left”.
Domestic percussion lightens the mood with a funny glimpse at communal living, rattling through ‘Bang-Bang’ with the intent of achieving the fascinating effect of eavesdropping on a pressure cooker-style scene that may imminently escalate into a neighbourly dispute. There is even one sound that could be a door squeaking open in the background as the angry lady next door makes her latest attempt to quiet the defiant musicians. If only my neighbours were as tuneful. Following the equally percussive title track, ‘Cradling Time’ is the blissful instrumental track that each song intro has been hinting towards. Evoking calm, intimate moments of pleasure – everything from hazy summers to wintry fireside scenes – snapshots in our lives that are remembered forever, its sequencing before the more simply named ‘Time’ is more than appropriate. If the previous track suggested moments when living lingers in pause, ‘Time’ laments how it all too easily flies by.
As divine as these two opposing outlooks on the seconds that pass may be, In-Between‘s most moving and melancholy track is saved for last. ‘Here Again’ pulls you right in with its hazy electric guitar intro before lines like “burn a candle just to show you’re living on” and “chasing memories is part of denial” wrap themselves around your ears, demanding to be listened to twice just to savour all that they say and imply. It’s another song informed by time and where it goes but the uniformity of the subject matter does nothing to dampen the impact of this closing trio of songs. And when the sound of rainfall bids you goodbye, you may well feel a wash of relief, not that this all-too-short album has finished but that you’ve spent twenty-five gorgeous minutes in its embrace.
In-Between is an alarmingly well-honed, brilliantly compiled debut that shines with passion and musical integrity. Its unpolished approach to production is airy enough so that Dariti’s moments of genius are not smothered, allowing the breathtaking simplicity of the songs and inventive percussion to transcend the boundaries of most homegrown debuts.
[MoHo; February 18, 2008]