The first solo record released from former Youth Group frontman, Toby Martin, Love’s Shadow is a mature set reflecting on heartache and loneliness, with Martin often showing moments of clarity through his spoken songs.

There is something wonderful about the simplicity of this album, and the ability the lyrics have to convey such emotional narratives. The tone of Martin’s sincere and honest voice is what really strikes you; it’s what makes the lyrics so believable. You find yourself not just having a sing along to the lyrics, but you feel like you have an understanding and connection with them.

‘Lead You In’ is one of the stand out tracks on the album, a song showing some obvious heartbreak, with the lyrics, “why can’t you just love me?/ Is that really so hard?” conveying the problem of someone not loving back.

The intro track, ‘Nylex Nights’, is another catchy tune all about trying to make sense of the world, emphasising how insignificant we really are. It sounds all deep and meaningful, but Martin throws in some bad words and funny lines, which lift the song up into a feel good tune.

Such charming and witty stories harmonised with gentle guitar and piano make for well-meaning tunes that are quaint and unique.Love’s Shadow also presents Martin as a worldly man, many songs mentioning the places they were written in, such as ‘Postcards From Surfers’ and ‘New York: Misses You’.

The unpolished vocals tend to add to the emotion and emphasise the honest storytelling within the songs. Love’s Shadow presents a more analytical view of a breakup, looking from the outside, rather than a first person account of the problems in relationships.

Packed with raw emotion and honest lyrics, but without falling into the trap of being depressing, as so many breakup albums tend to be.

– Shannon Wood

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