Mar 10, 2023
By Dom Gourlay
Amber Arcades (aka Dutch musician Annelotte de Graaf) released one of the 21st century’s finest debuts in 2016 with Fading Lines and then followed it up two years later with the slightly more introspective European Heartbreak. The ensuing break caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with de Graaf relocating to Amsterdam from her native Utrecht, provided the impetus for the third Amber Arcades record.
Whisper it quietly, but Barefoot on Diamond Road might just be her most exquisite collection of songs to date. Having teamed up once again with Ben Greenberg, who also worked on Amber Arcades’ debut, de Graaf has created a record that’s both personal in lyrical content while also broadening her sonic palette from that of its predecessor.
Written during the first lockdown in the spring of 2020, then subsequently recorded over the passing months, Barefoot on Diamond Road isn’t so much a return to basics but more a journey of rediscovery. In a recent interview with Under the Radar, de Graaf admitted becoming disillusioned with music so it’s to her credit that this record even exists, never mind it being one of 2023’s finest to date.
From the dreamy opener “Diamond Road,” which harks back to the atmospheric sonics of her debut, to the more experimental likes of “Water Stains” and monolithic “I’m Not There,” this is a collection that should reaffirm Annelotte de Graaf as one of the finest European songwriters of her generation. Barefoot on Diamond Road is a magnificent return that also whets the appetite for what might come next, as the scope of those wares holds no bounds. (www.amberarcades.net)
Author rating: 8.5/10
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