Amber Arcades is the alias of Annelotte de Graaf, the Dutch singer/songwriter who recorded two EPs and a couple of critically-acclaimed albums, the second of which, ‘European Heartbreak’ blossomed with “hints of Lindi Ortega and early Saint Etienne, breezy, dreamy pop more personal than political” The Guardian.
Most recently, having moved to Amsterdam from Utrecht she sought a new way of looking at the world. She lost faith in music, then regained it and now delivers her most breath-taking album yet; ‘Barefoot On Diamond Road’, set for release on 10th February 2023, is her first release on Fire Records.
Leading with first single, ‘Just Like Me’ is more overtly dancey, more triumphant, its stop/start structure adding an unsettling and unpredictable edginess to proceedings.
“There’s a clear distinction from my last record, ‘European Heartbreak’ which had a complete narrative. This record is completely the opposite”. ‘Barefoot On Diamond Road’ is the antidote for heartbreak. “It’s an album more about what was happening in my life, digging into emotions and observations.”
Conceived remotely with original sparring partner Ben Greenberg (Danny Elfman, Depeche, Ryley Walker) in New York and Annelotte in Amsterdam; It’s a coming of age set in a new town with a new positivity underpinning her, as ever, beautifully crafted and highly personal observations on life, love and how it all should or could work.
“This record really reveals parts of me and my relationship with being a musician and making music. It’s like a reckoning, more in the moment, realizing how important it is to do things for the right reasons and how that can change your process into one that embraces what exists, including yourself.”
Immersed in an all-consuming wall of sound, ‘Barefoot On Diamond Road’ is like My Bloody Valentine gone acoustic, it shouldn’t work but it does; it’s a juxtaposition of textures, from skittery, uneasy dancefloor beats to symphonic kosmische, a baroque pop tapestry side-stitched with cellos and harps with a plaintive steel guitar echoing in the distance. Throughout, the drums and percussion arrangements of Matt Chamberlain (Pearl Jam, Bowie, Dylan, Adele, Lorde, Springsteen, Cohen…) make it glow with added texture. It’s a record of engaging maturity, filled with slow motion builds and epic lifts that elevate it to dizzying heights with all of the drama – think The Gun Club sitting back with Portishead, anything could happen, it’s an imaginary film… PJ Harvey lurks in the shadows.
“I worked with Ben Greenberg who also produced my first record. I kept track of him over the last couple of years. He’s been working on a lot of film music, and these songs felt quite filmic. I wanted that big atmosphere, that’s why I approached him. I had this idea of a harp, a cello, classical instruments. To be honest, I was just kind of bored with guitar music.”
The album was a slow burn due to lockdowns, then the duo worked together apart, bouncing ideas back and forth; “We were tweaking it a little bit, listening again, taking a lot more space and time to really listen through stuff, which worked well and the songs became much bigger.”
Amber Arcades’ new album ‘Barefoot On Diamond Road’ marks a new phase for the highly respected musician.
Available on Limited Edition Silver Vinyl, Black Vinyl & CD