I was thrilled when I received an email from Jeremy at Sonnet to ask me to review 'Shine A Little Light' the latest album from The Southern Companion. Such a prestigious band who I have been a fan of since FSA Fest 2016 when I first saw them perform songs from their '1000 Days Of Rain' album which is now one of my all time favourites. So for me personally, I didn't think they could equal it. It just goes to show how much I know, right?
Considering the sibling rivalry in this opening song and ending up with the death of a brother in a car crash, you would think 'Billy's Brother' would be a sad ballad but it is far from it and it's not until you pick each line out individually that you get a sense of the real intensity of this story.
Having heard Darren introduce 'Can I Get A Witness' at several songwriter rounds I know it's about the pitfalls of the social media bandwagon but not really experiencing life first hand. It really does make you realise that we all need to take a step back and have a rethink before real life simply passes us by.
'Songbird' - A lively, up tempo, foot tapping story about having a daughter and only wanting the best for her, so teaching, guiding and nurturing her and hoping to be getting it right as she grows up fast.
'Can't Get There From Here' is the song that gives the album it's title. Shine A Little Light. It's about knowing which path in life to take, and then we have a totally beautiful song with just Darren and his guitar, 'Few Too Many Hours' is stripped back to the bones and naked. There is a saying "less is more" which describes this song perfectly.
'Great American Mistake' is all about resisting the urge to be lead astray because you know how you will feel afterwards.
There are parts of 'Lie To Me' that put me in mind of Pink Floyd. It's a certain guitar strum but that is where the similarity ends although it is one of those songs where you just want to put the headphones on, close your eyes and drift away which is the same way Pink Floyd albums make me feel. Darren's voice really stands out and you can really appreciate his stunning and meaningful vocals.
'Already Gone' is about life on the road. Hotel rooms and suitcases. But when he closes his eyes he is where he wants to be....back home with his family.
'You Are Not Alone' is quite different from the other songs on the album. Telling his beloved that every sensation that she feels is a reminder that he is there with her. I love the really rocky outro. 'And In The End' is more an intro than a whole song. Is it the end? It doesn't sound like it. I feel that it is asking you if you want to know the rest of the story. Maybe a future album is in the pipeline.....
The final song on the album is 'Last Rays Of The Sun' is about when you are feeling down, and not knowing which way to turn, you will always figure out a solution to your problem.
There are some great stories told on this stunning album. I know 'Shine A Little Light' has been a complete labour of love for Darren and The Southern Companion and that his heart and soul has poured out into every single note. They are undoubtedly one of the top bands on the British country music scene. Top quality songwriting, top quality musicianship and a top quality slightly husky vocal performance from frontman Darren Hodson.
I cannot recommend this album highly enough. You definitely need it in your music library.