"Dark End of the Light" by Andy Beglin & The MGReview
This is going to be another unusual review as technically the song at the heart of it has already featured in the magazine as part of my article on its parent album, 'Memories From The Mantelpiece'. However it's never possible to give individual songs their fair due in such a context & that, I have always supposed, is why artists increasingly release most of an album as singles before the collective drop.
At the time, I tentatively identified "Mademoiselle's Hotel" as a potential first single from Andy Beglin's debut LP. I covered myself by pointing out that every track had that potential and just as well I did, because he's gone for "Dark End of the Light" instead.
Even die hard Andy Beglin fans, all of whom will know the song very well by now, will be asking some questions though I expect. Although the album, long in the making, has itself been out for ages now, this is, as I have said, the first single from it & it will be the last too.
It serves several purposes: most immediately it's a gesture towards his upcoming Godiva Festival appearance: on Saturday July 1st on the Serendipity Stage, which will act too as the single's launch.
In the longer term, as he's getting his follow-up album together, it's a nice reminder of the most recent collection & a bridge between the two.
Written as far back as 2015, "Dark End of the Light" is actually Andy's first composition & that's an important element in his decision too.
So shining the "Hot Music Live" spotlight upon the track a little more intently than last time, what do we find?
Well the first thing you'll notice is that like "Vale of Avalon", the song is credited to ‘Andy Beglin & The MG' rather than to Andy alone, a mark of respect towards producer & collaborator Michael Gallacher.
The second point is I hadn't, surrounded as it was by many high quality comrades on 'Memories From The Mantelpiece', taken in quite how powerful it is. I certainly, on a general point shared with all the ones, felt it had sterling stand along potential, but I suspect that at the time, I gravitated to the soulful, intense but more fully arranged songs. Given that "Dark End of the Light" was written before them, it's possible to track his writing progression at least in terms of subject and tone.
As an artist who clearly leans towards American influences, it's easy enough to detect CSNY and pure Neil touches in there. There may too be a tip of the hat to James Carr.
A characteristically & fundamentally optimistic song ultimately (I think), however the narrative takes us there via some very melancholic routes on the way, embracing the vicissitudes of existence & I think he's suggesting that life's journey & emotions, for better or worse, make us what we are: that you can't become a whole person without having experiencing pain.
Emotionally strong & unrepentant, it works as a calling card for the authenticity of what Andy's music is all about both in terms of composition & performance: especially with the more stripped back arrangements, which is what audiences at his rare live outings tend to get. You however get a sublime (I mean it) guitar solo too, adding yet more value to the song.
I'm looking forwards to catching his set at the Godiva Festival & to his new album: in the meantime, if this song represents merely the starting point of his journey, the mind (and heart) boggles as to where he might take us eventually.