“Follow The Light” is a passion project and the work of a lifetime. Krister Axel, the songwriter, mastermind, guitarist, keyboard player, looper and lead vocalist of the project has included songs written 15 years ago on his childhood piano as well as songs written just two weeks before recording on “Follow The Light.” Recorded live in just five days, in a setting where only two of the performers had ever been in a room together, the odds were stacked high against The River South. However, these artists’ individual talents brought the music to life!
Adam Marcello, known for his 10 years as Katy Perry’s music director, played the drums. Jai Dillon strums his heart out on the bass complemented by Gabriel Rhodes’ synchronized guitar playing. Shawn Pander was the other vocalist on the album as well as the producer for the project as a whole. Delve deep into the world of roots music by taking in this album in its entirety. As quoted on their website, “this album is mixed dry for maximum flavor. Serve chilled with wine or beer.”
5. FOLLOW THE LIGHT
The first track on the album easily makes the top five! This song has everything from a catchy melody to great vocals, smooth instrumentals, and a bass solo. It sets the perfect mood for the remainder of the album.
There are a few songs on this album that made me feel like I was listening to the old John Mayer, and this is one of them.
You know what I love most about this song? The repetition of the chorus telling the listener to “follow the light” as the song trails to an end is very inviting and frankly made me want to keep listening to see what The River South is all about.
In my opinion, this track is fitting for a peaceful drive on a cold and rainy day.
4. NEVER SAY GOODBYE
“Never Say Goodbye,” gave me country blues vibes. It’s a love song about enduring, feeling hopeless, then finding the will to carry on through love. It’s about being lost in life and the love you’ve found giving you strength. When you find that, you never want to let it go, just like the title of the song.
This song is touching and very sweet! There is a lot of emotion behind these lyrics that can be heard in the vocals. Knowing that a lot of the songs on the album were written throughout his life makes me wonder if this song was written about a specific person, and if so, did they ever get to say goodbye to them.
One of the most satisfying things about the songwriter being the performer as well is that they can draw inspiration for their lyrics from their real life, so it is not only relatable, but it also gives us a look into their personal life offstage.
3. NO MEDICINE
This song has the most beautiful acoustic guitar playing in the background! (Sorry, I just wanted to point that out really quick)
It seems “No Medicine” is about what life is like post-breakup. There is “no medicine” for the heartbreak that is experienced when someone is no longer a part of your life, which is why Axel says “when I see you I feel like I’m coming home.” This is definitely a song for the lovesick with heavy hearts.
It’s a simple song with notes of sadness that only intensify its overall beauty.
2. A LITTLE DYING
Here is a song where the bass shines alternating between the sounds of romantic Spanish guitar and haunting blues melodies.
“A Little Dying,” is one of those tracks that stays with you. I found myself cooing the chorus, “it’s all for you,” in the bathroom this morning.
“A Little Dying” is heavy on the instrumentals and of few words, which amplifies the haunting poignancy of the lyrics. Placing this song in the middle of the track listing slows the album down for a smooth little intermission, allowing the listener to fully appreciate The River South’s sound before the tempo picks back up for the second half.
1. THERE’S NOTHING BENEATH US
After listening to this album a couple of times, this is the song I kept coming back to.
One thing that stood out to me on this track is the use of the harmonica: There’s one specific part of the song where the backup vocals’ harmony transitions into a harmonica solo and it is absolutely brilliant!
“There’s Nothing Beneath Us” takes me back to the days before folk/indie musicians used synthesizers so freely. It has a natural sound because it was recorded live with a band as opposed to on top of a pre-mixed instrumental. The whimsical lyrics made me, as the listener, feel the love Axel describes throughout the album.
SONG BY SONG BREAKDOWN
1. FOLLOW THE LIGHT (5/5)
2. GO MY WAY (5/5)
3. SOMEDAY (4.8/5)
4. A LITTLE DYING (5/5)
5. NO MEDICINE (5/5)
6. SEEING STARS (5/5)
7. GOT ME RUNNING (4.8/5)
8. NEVER SAY GOODBYE (5/5)
9. THERE’S NOTHING BENEATH US (5/5)
When I read the bio on The River South’s website and discovered that this album had been recorded in five days, I was not sure what to expect. After listening to it, I could not believe that it only took five days to get it right. “Follow The Light” is an album that oozes authenticity. When listening to it, I felt as though I was listening to The River South live and that made me feel a certain connection to the performers.
The music of today is wonderful, however, it does lack a certain authenticity found in the past because of the use of digitally mixed instrumentals. When the music comes from the heart and the instruments are natural, it has an organic sound. This is something that The River South has managed to master on this album. It’s reminiscent of the music of Damien Rice or Jeff Buckley or any other artists on your favorite coffeehouse playlist. You can give their album “Follow The Light” a listen on The River South’s Soundcloud, Apple Music, Tidal, Spotify, as well as their website!