Ashton Nyte is more comfortable as a musician than he has ever been.
Having spent just over a decade in the US, the Port Elizabeth born gothic rocker has been prolific throughout his career. Since the mid-1990s, he has been creating art, first with his band, The Awakening and then as a solo artist. The Awakening has released nine albums, a best of and also a compilation.
His first album in five years brims with confidence, even it can be laboured and choppy. It has too many short three-minute songs when it could have longer ballads. To his credit, Nyte is a South African artist who didn’t try to copy everything he heard elsewhere but rather persisted with producing music that he following would like. Now, he is making music which he likes.
This is his seventh solo album and an unusual fully acoustic work for an artist which previously has delved in the gothic and used the necessary instruments to do so, including synths.
With his band, The Awakening, he released eleven albums and one best of.
Nyte has chosen to go acoustic on Waiting for a Voice. It appears to be one of his most personal albums in years. “Ashton Nyte” might be a stage persona but now that he has been creating music for more than twenty years, parts of his private side has come through in his poetic lyrics.
Nyte’s decision to expand into the American market has paid dividends.
While many live adult contemporary artists have had their careers stunted this year, owing to the pandemic stopping them from performing, Nyte has managed to release the kind of album you can listen to while trying to put your life into perspective.
The album’s quality really kicks in around its middle as the singer builds to a number of uncomfortable climaxes.
Track nine: “Soon it will be morning” stands out. In it, Nyte sings to someone dear to him who he has lost in his life. It seems to reference the end of a relationship and he accounts for it deeply. It may even be about someone lost in an accident. He sings about the washing away of someone around mountains. This could be water or it could be more figurative. He then seems to be reborn out of the loss – “I dance like one possessed by the alchemy of life,” he sings.
Maybe the song is about a night he cannot forget but he is calmed by the fact that it will pass. He will wake up in a fresh, new morning.
His cover of “Heroes” by David Bowie is memorable but not exceptional, even if it’s a song which has been covered by numerous artists over the past few decades. Bowie clearly influenced thousands of gothic artists the world over.
Nyte’s version is a sombre take. It’s as if he is saying goodbye to the listener. It ends with a bit of an uptick in tempo, but not like other versions of the song, which end in a feeling of pomp and circumstance.
But while some of these songs are introspective, life-affirming, depressing or surprising, some are just forgettable. The song “disappear” fades seconds after hearing it.
The album ends with Awake and Icicles.
Awake is starts with “Winter comes to open up; the door” and appears to end the story of reflection which Nyte has been through and taken the listener on. It’s a very strong piece of music.
Finally, on “Icicles”, the album ends. This piece is rather laboured but maybe it’s supposed to be.
“The fortune teller waits for another chance, puts her hand on mine. Her eyes are closed,” the song starts.
It talks about his perceived future which seems very sketchy, unclear and lost.
He cries for help multiple times and says “I can be all before it’s done”.
Ultimately, Waiting for a Voice is a song about a period of life which is ending, hence many references to winter. It might not be a reference to someone’s overall death but something dies in this album.
The album is accompanied by a book associated with the release, which has certainly been a labour of love. The book, vinyl and CD copies of the album will be available in SA once COVID import regulations are relaxed. ‘Waiting For A Voice’ is available locally right now on all streaming and download services.
Music Video: https://youtu.be/DDS87BEOLsk
Stream the album: https://album.link/za/i/1515859546