image © My First Records 2005
.: more Sarah Howells :.
Interview and Photos (2004)
Jylt: Surrender (2003)
Halflight: Subside (2004)
Paper Aeroplanes Feature (2013)
My Desire cover artwork
image © My First Records 2007
(26 November 2005 | updated 06 July 2013) In 2004, Halflight's debut release, Subside EP signalled the arrival of a rare new talent. Centered around the heart-breaking vocals of Sarah Howells, Halflight take acoustic and electric guitars and cello and transform them into a compelling and emotive alt-pop sound. The band released the Pick Me (My First Records (UK), mfrcd002, 2005) six-track mini-album in November 2005.
Halflight began at the end of 2003 after Sarah Howells' previous band Jylt, tragically came to an end. Bassist, singer and best friend, Nia George (review) had been diagnosed with Leukaemia and eventually died of the illness at only 21. Despite the indescribable sense of loss and despair this brought, Sarah was compelled to continue writing and performing and out of this, Halflight was born. The live Halflight lineup is completed by Richard Llewellyn (guitars, noises), Emma Bryden (cello), Avvon Chambers (drums) and Gwion Rowlands (bass).
Pick Me opens with the upbeat "Smiles and Air," crisp percussion underscoring acoustic and electric guitars with Sarah's tender and evocative voice gently soaring above instrumentals in the memorable chorus. With the richest instrumentation of the CD, it is one of the mini-album's standouts. "Paper Cuts" is a classic singer songwriter ballad, tender and well produced vocals atop primarily acoustic arrangements. The mini-album continues to develop with the title track "Pick Me," a lovely and melodic chorus atop crisp percussion and rocking electro-acoustic instrumentation. The accessible title track is another standout track on this CD.
While Halflight will attract a range of listeners, Sarah Howells' emotional and evocative voice will draw female vocals enthusiasts as much to this band as they were drawn to Jylt in years past. The tender ballad "Mari" is sweetly sung to light electric guitar with cello carefully underscoring the melancholy chorus. Bass and percussion add texture to the piece. Acoustic guitar provides the essential backing to the lovely singer songwriter ballad "Loveworn." And as with the other numbers on this mini-album Sarah's vocals remain solo. Her voice is strong enough without the layering commonly found on so many of today's recordings--with the exception of the closing track where it works to great effect.
The album concludes with "The Ending," again acoustic guitar providing the gentle foundation for Sarah's sweetly sung melody. Cello and further guitar work contribute texture to the number in addition to a thicker-than-typical bass part. On Pick Me Halflight have clearly demonstrated they continue to grow. We are again incredibly impressed with Sarah Howells' tender vocal work and look forward to the band's continued evolution and wish them godspeed in a full length release.
The Halflight story has continued after Pick Me and the band's evolution continued. Sarah and Richard recorded further material and released a lovely seven track collection, distributing the My Desire EP (My First Records (UK), 2007) at gigs before changing their name to Paper Aeroplanes. A digital version remains still available at BandCamp. Here, enthusiasts of the band's music can cross the bridge from Halflight to Paper Aeroplanes right along with the artists by listening to their music!