Music Review: The Other Side of Midnight (2021) by Venus Blake
Though Venus Blake is only in her mid-twenties, her debut album The Other Side of Midnight (2021) makes her seem older than she is. The classically trained pianist has a powerful voice that is attention-grabbing, theatrical, and emotional — which are all assets when you are trying to make a record about loss, alienation, grieving, addiction, obsession, recovery, and the general difficulties of life. Her music, too, is not exactly light and uplifting, rather it’s impactful, evocative, and genuinely well done. Overall, she strikes a good balance between her lyrics and her sound.
That being said, to me, The Other Side of Midnight is a difficult record to get through in one sitting. Having experienced the pandemic and, thereby, isolation, alienation, and loss that Blake sings about, the emotions on the album are too big for me to handle at this particular moment in time, though she does aim to take you “through the darkness and into the light.” The light is where I want to focus my attention. But that does not mean that I don’t appreciate the dark. Indeed, personal preference aside, the album is a solid piece of art.
Blake sees herself as a poet. By definition, poets are individuals with “great imaginative and expressive capabilities and special sensitivity to the medium.” True to form, her work reflects the romanticism and the sensitivity that's characteristic of her chosen profession (she is due to release a book of poetry in the near future), but it’s also what makes her work heavy. Much like most people, I have trouble reading more than a few poems at a time. One needs time to absorb the content, never mind the time that’s required to ponder it, and/or interpret its meaning.
I’d recommend starting the album with the sixth track, “The Wanderlust Interlude.” The opening is a short monolog about searching for something meaningful. It is followed by a beautiful lyric-less melody that provides listeners with the perfect opportunity to reflect on the potency of her words: “Not all who wander are lost. But some are, walking along thorny paths in the middle of nowhere, wandering, wandering, from place to place, time to time, strangers to whatever surroundings they find themselves in, yet blending in as part of the scenery…”
From there, I would move on to “Me and the Sea” as it, too, places much of the focus on the lyrics. Follow that up with “Escape,” a lovely song with a very soft piano and guitar driven melody as the background. After this “warm up,” listeners can switch to any other track. In a way, I’d say that Venus Blake’s debut album The Other Side of Midnight is like a good whiskey. It may be hard to appreciate the full work if you don’t take the time to get a taste for the first few tracks, feel out the product, and then go for the full experience.
Stream The Other Side of Midnight on Spotify and watch the official music video for "Tragedy" here. For more from Venus Blake, check out her Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Note* Music provided for objective review by our partners.