So, where to start with the new posthumous solo album by Aleah Liane Stanbridge, better known as Aleah Starbridge or simply Aleah, singer of the Swedish/Finnish band Trees Of Eternity. Aleah passed away in 2016 after a brave fight with cancer. She was just 39 years old when she left this mortal coil, but her eternal spirit lives on through her beautiful music, realised on her solo album, brought to fruition by her life partner and Swallow The Sun/Trees of Eternity guitarist, Juha Raivio.
Juha says: ‘This day April 18th will always stay as the blackest and saddest day of my life. But I want to remember this day also from something positive and good from now on. I want to thank Svart Records for standing behind me and giving me the opportunity to release all this music so far to honour Aleah’s legacy, and now finally Aleah’s own album that she always wanted to release.’
This collection of songs is far more than just some sort of greatest hits package; it’s a deeply personal insight into the world of a truly beautiful songstress. The album is split into nine acoustic tracks, completely stripped back, which are haunting and feel more personal for it. The remainder are more complete band tracks, which include a couple of alternate versions, and I feel privileged to be sharing in this bittersweet outpouring.
There are songs of love, and songs of loss. Songs of empowerment, and songs of defiance. It’s hard to put into words how I feel listening to these tracks, they feel so pure and emotional, and perhaps it’s knowing the back story that makes it all the more poignant. What I do know is that to fully appreciate this experience, all I need is a darkened room, and these lullabies, to drift away into the aether…
Right from track one, Vapour, we’re greeted with a beautifully haunting piece, it’s simply enchanting, and it sets the tone for the rest of the album.
Aleah is such a fitting testament for such an incredible talent, the whole experience intoxicates me, its beauty hold’s me, and its charm warms me inside…
My personal favourite is track two, Sacrifice, which I played back several time’s before listening to any more of the album. This track is just heart-breaking perfection. There is a alternative vision further on down the line, and to hear a more fleshed out version is certainly a surprise, and it really shows just how these songs were imagined, and just how rich they truly are.
Throughout the entirety of this experience I pick up on so many things, on Open Sky I’m instantly transported to a personal consciousness, its reminiscent of an acoustic version of My Electricity by The Gathering, which I play for pleasure, and a chord progression that I’ve played a thousand times on my own acoustic guitar, and it feels just like home.
My Will rings of Mazzy Star, it’s a beautiful track, a statement about living life on your own terms, and not being swayed by the actions, or beliefs, of others, ‘release my heart, release my soul‘, ‘ I am not your possession, and my goal is my own…’, truly inspirational.
Breathe is a complete revelation, I don’t think ever has the concept of love for another person truly been as perfectly captured as it is on this ode. I could go on and on about this album, but it’s safer to ask you to experience it in all its glory for yourself and make your own mind up. I personally found it all consuming, I could not focus on anything else, I closed my eyes, and let it take me away.
Aleah is such a fitting testament for such an incredible talent, the whole experience intoxicates me, its beauty hold’s me, and its charm warms me inside.
Scribed by: Lee Beamish