Alt-Country / Americana / Folk Rock / New Music / New Zealand / Stream


Emily Fairlight and Mike McLeod of The Shifting Sands blend their guitars and voices in a gloriously intertwined wash of sound on ‘Head Above’, the first single from their forthcoming collaborative LP Sun Casts A Shadow, out now via Fishrider Records.

There are some wonderful stripped-back folk and alt-country qualities to the song as the chords circle and Fairlight’s voice rises out of the acoustic and electric embrace with a resolve and resilience. The rawness of the recording adds to the sense of frayed and exposed emotions – real unfettered and immediate, heart-on-sleeve stuff.

“We never meant it to result in an album,” says McLeod. “Before the tour we’d been working tirelessly on Emily’s solo record, both putting huge amounts of time and effort into meticulous details, which was totally appropriate for that album – and it sounds beautiful, I might add. We went to throw down a song or two at Manny’s and got on a roll. I think after making heavily layered sonic pop albums with the Sands, where I’d hide behind my songs with layers of guitars and synths and bury my vocals for fear of embarrassment, I wanted to get past that, to feel okay about my songs as they stand. This album sounds like Emily Fairlight and Mike McLeod playing in your lounge. Most performances were nailed first-take – we finished nine songs in two days. It feels like a complete work that perfectly captures a special moment. I’m really proud of it.” 

Fairlight adds: “When I first listened to The Shifting Sands, I could hear a similar style in our songwriting. Then Mike and I started playing and touring together, so this colab album felt like a natural progression for our musical relationship. I haven’t done much collaborative work, so was pleased to fall into this album almost by mistake. The songs’ raw, ‘stripped-back’ form is mildly daunting for us both but hey, that’s the sound of some of my favourite artists, so we hope you’ll enjoy the songs in their purest state.”

Fairlight has been composing and performing for over a decade, playing throughout New Zealand and Australia as well as three trips to the USA, where she recorded her second album Mother of Gloom with local musicians in Austin, Texas.

The Shifting Sands are a 3 and/or 4 piece band from Dunedin, New Zealand. They have now released two albums and toured in the US twice.


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