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Just in time for this tough economy—and (less bleakly) for the first day of spring—Asheville’s Night’s Bright Colors releases its newest effort, Late Night by Lamplight. The online-only album (available on Friday, Mar. 20 at www.nightsbrightcolors.com) can be downloaded for free.

The no-cost digital album is in keeping with the times. In late 2007, mega stars Radiohead issued their “pay what you want” online-only album, In Rainbows. Five years earlier, R.E.M. released r.e.m.IX, a remix of the previous year’s Reveal for fans to download free via the band’s Website. In this age of DIY home studios and indie labels, the straight-to-Web tactic seems a logical next step.

“With this new technology, downloading it for free makes more sense,” explains Night’s Bright Colors mastermind, Jason Smith. Printing CDs was a major cost for the musician who felt the pressure to sell the finished product “became more of a focus than it should have.”

A companion disc to last autumn’s First Set Fire to the Stars, Late continues with the nighttime motif, a velvety hush palpable throughout the collection. But Smith’s shimmery, ambient aesthetic is bolstered by pop sensibility with nods to Sparklehorse as well as The Cure. Lush violin (from Lauren Brown) balances sanguine guitar strumming on the all-too-brief opener, “blush.”

The title track pairs Medieval string tones with a Nick Drake-like vocal for something sweetly romantic. The adroitly-named “parry the wind” is a moody meditation on weather as metaphor for relationships. That Smith, a stay-at-home dad, can craft such quixotic material in between sippy cups and naptimes only adds to the starry-eyed spell this album casts.

Smith plans to release the fourth and possibly final album in the Night’s Bright Colors catalog – a concept collection he describes as “evolving or devolving” around a Romeo and Juliet theme—this fall.

On another musical note, local Celtic guitarist John Doyle  (formerly of super group Solas and recently heard at Diana Wortham Theatre with Green Fields of America) joined frequent collaborator Liz Carroll for yesterday’s annual St. Patrick’s Day luncheon at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.—attended by President Obama as well as Brian Cowan, the new Prime Minister of Ireland. Irish-born Doyle follows that honor with a string of dates opening for folk singer Joan Baez.

Howard Street Handmade, a local craft market (and project of Short Street Cakes) launching Saturday, March 21, won’t be serving up music, but everything else—ceramics, clothing, jewelry, feltwork, book arts and more—can be found at 227 Haywood Rd. The market runs 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Info: www.howardstreethandmade.blogspot.com.

 

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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