There’s a simple reason that Deaf Havana’s ‘All These Countless Nights’ is still one of the best albums of the year when placed next to so many of their Britrock peers. The difference in ambition and honesty that the Norfolk quintet display is just staggering. It’s still a profoundly accessible listen, but to take that template and use it to explore frontman James Veck-Gilodi’s relationships with alcoholism and himself as a person is a brave move, but one that makes for such an affecting listen.
And from that ambition and willingness to dig so deep within themselves comes this reworked edition, deconstructing the entire album into a softer, more pensive version of itself, eking out the deepest emotions that mightn’t have fully shone through on the plugged-in original. This isn’t a new venture for Deaf Havana – 2011’s ‘Fools And Worthless Liars’ received a similar treatment a year later – but when there’s as much care and nuance as there is here, that’s hardly a complaint. There’s still a lingering sense of dejection around ‘Happiness’ and a rumbling ‘Pensacola 2013’, but with an emphasis on languid strings in the former and a snarling guitar solo in the latter, the band manage to tap into a different kind of rich emotion that was present on the original.
Even so, this really isn’t a substitute for the original. Whereas every piece of that album felt like it played a purpose in weaving Veck-Gilodi’s narrative, there are definitely missteps here that prevent that from being the case. ‘L.O.V.E’’s smooth, sliding guitar has a jauntiness that doesn’t do a lot for it, and ‘St. Paul’s’ metamorphosis into a full-blown country track feels like a step in the wrong direction from its power ballad roots. Still, you can’t say that Deaf Havana aren’t averse to pushing themselves, and most of the time, it does work. ‘Seattle’ adopts a newfound softness with its gentle acoustic guitar and piano, and the plucked strings and darker vocal manipulation on ‘Like A Ghost’ is totally at odds with everything else here, and works out fantastically to boot.
It’s a credit to Deaf Havana’s ability as composers that they’re not only able to turn their own album around so drastically, but still come out with a version that might not only really stand as a companion piece to the original, but also has such clear highlights of its own that do stand out regardless. Again, don’t expect this reworking to overtake the original, but for a fresh viewpoint on an already excellent album, this is virtually essential listening.
‘All These Countless Nights – Reworked’ by Deaf Havana is out now on SO Recordings.
Words by Luke Nuttall (@nuttall_luke)