StevieRay Latham illustrates superbly how less can be so much more in the video premiere of his latest art-folk release, ‘Letter from Suburbia’. Latham’s melodic, poetic musings are depicted with perfect simplicity in the lyric video for the song, which involves just one long, voyeuristic shot of a young boy writing a letter in a house in the suburbs. The song opens with its title in big block yellow lettering and fades into the scene of a child writing at a desk. Antique furnishings take up little space in the corner of the room. The scene is lit by two lamps with a chiaroscuro effect, one vastly brighter than the other, drawing the video’s youthful protagonist as an almost silhouette.
Shot in black and white, the video embodies Latham’s antiquated voice and finger-picked guitar style. His melodic drawl draws comparisons to Bob Dylan and Neil Young – the song takes me to that same feeling of comfort I get listening to ‘Our House’ by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. ‘Letter from Suburbia’ is compelling and its minimal production gives Latham’s lyrical complexity a chance to shine. The accompaniment of his words handwritten on the screen tells the listener to focus on what is being said and attributes a darker and more sorrowful story to the boy at the desk as Latham sings: “and it’s getting harder still”.
Hummed refrains soothe the troubled, matured and embattled lyrics as they pull away from the image of innocence rolling in the background. However, the chorus lifts the whole song out of sorrow and give some vestige of hope, like two lamps in a dark and bare room. I sense the lights, one decorated with a lampshade and the other a dim, bare bulb, hold some deeper meaning. Perhaps they represent the writer of the song and the unknown person he sings about whose “pale, green eyes” never let him down.
The song and video reveal the delicate mastery of subtlety in wondrous effect.
The video is set for release on March 12, 2021.