ARTIST : AJIMAL
ALBUM : As It Grows Dark / Light
RATING : 9/10
WORDS : CHRIS PRENATT
The singing doctor will be seeing you now. By day, Fran O’Hanlon works as a doctor, helping out those in need of physical care. But once the night starts to come around, another side of him reveals itself. AJIMAL, unlike his doctoral counterpart, heals those in a very special kind of way: mentally. With a voice so haunting that you swear you heard a ghost kiss your ear and lyrics so beautiful that some tears can be shed, AJIMAL is slowly becoming a force to be reckoned with. And if anyone gets hurt along the way, O’Hanlon can fix them.
AJIMAL creates one of the most haunting, gut-wrenching, calming, and emotional folk records of the century
On his latest album As It Grows Dark / Light, O’Hanlon shows us how quick he is at mastering his craft. With the help of producer Guy Massey (The Beatles, Manic Street Preachers, Radiohead), AJIMAL creates one of the most haunting, gut-wrenching, calming, and emotional folk records of the century. His voice can move mountains, whether it be in ghostly whispers that would give Billie Eilish a run for her money (“ANIMALS”, “A Rapture Coming”, “How Could You Disappear?”) or soft falsettos that put you at ease (“Alive, Awake!”, “It’s Real”, “I’ve Known Your Heart”). AJIMAL puts the ambient in ambient folk, taking us on a whimsical journey on all ten songs, and trust me, you’re gonna need some tissues.
There is a major sense of maturity in O’Hanlon’s songwriting. His debut Childhood gave us a hint of the power he had, but As It Grows Dark / Light expands it nearly as wide as the oceans. When each song stands out, that means something is being done right. You will never be able to find a dull moment on As It Grows Dark / Light.
It’s hard to find an album where you can listen to every single song and say that they’re all amazing. And no doubt about it: As It Grows Dark / Light is one of those albums. From the quiet and chilling moments found in the opening number “ANIMALS” to the nearly seven-minute long grand finale “For Good, Forever”, each song is able to shine bright. O’Hanlon has created lyrical gold, and with how rich his tone is, it makes everything feel so spectacular.
As It Grows Dark / Light will simply blow you away. Even though it may be quiet at some times, the emotional atmosphere speaks louder than anything
Tracks like “Above All Else, Be Kind”, “How Could You Disappear?”, and “For Good, Forever” are some of the diamonds found throughout this rich treasure chest of an album. “Above All Else, Be Kind” has AJIMAL’s soft ASMR-ish voice backed with the world’s gentlest guitar strumming, rocking you into a relaxed state of mind. “How Could You Disappear?” has to be one of the saddest, happy sounding dance numbers in recent times. It’s quite hard to groove when you are too busy wiping the tears from your eyes. And the last track “For Good, Forever” makes you feel like you’re drifting off into space. The strings kick in around the five minute mark and builds up to this magnificent crescendo which ends the album on a strong note.
As It Grows Dark / Light will simply blow you away. Even though it may be quiet at some times, the emotional atmosphere speaks louder than anything. If O’Hanlon ever had any doubts that this would be a sophomore slump, he can rest easy now once he realizes he crafted one of the most stunning, heart-tugging records in forever. Get this album right now when you have the chance.
As It Grows Dark / Light is out now.