It’s not uncommon for an album title to be self-explanatory, but in the case, it’s the name of the act. Celestial North originally hails from Edinburgh but is now based in the Lake District, and if we take the meaning of Celestial as ‘belonging or relating to heaven’ or ‘supremely good’ (dictionaries still have their part to play in 2023!) then it’s pretty spot on.
Over the last couple of years, as a number of singles have come out, it’s been clear that this album, when it was eventually released, would be something pretty special. In fact, I’ve been really quite excited for this release. It’s not just me, of course. There was much excitement around her cover of ‘Nightswimming‘ for the God Is In The TV-curated album of R.E.M. covers A Carnival Of Sorts a couple of years ago, and quite rightly, too. It indicates the magic at play in her music. It’s also included here as the penultimate track.
Of course, this doesn’t need a cover of a well-known track just simply to get people to spend time with it. Produced by Matthew ”Woody’ Wood of Sea Power (also her husband, fact fans!), and drawing on her time living in both places, the album is a debut of ethereal delights. Right from the opening track and title track, this is an album that bewitches and works its charms on you. Stylistically, it might be described as electronica, dream pop, electro-pop, folktronica, gaze, and techno…whatever you like. Somehow it looks to the future whilst feeling tethered to ancient roots, and indeed routes.
The first part of the album seems destined to the dancefloor – if that part of a rave taking place deep in the forest than some glitzy club. Yet when it reaches ‘Yarrow‘ it slows the pace and becomes even more atmospheric than previously. Originally released last year, it was clear that her song-writing had shifted up a gear and it is one of the standout tracks on this album, a particularly haunting track.
Edinburgh has produced a number of great albums this year (Air In The Lungs, Withered Hand, Meursault) and this is another to add to the list, of course. But regardless of where it comes from, and at times it truly seems to be from the stars, it’s something special worth hearing. ‘There’s alchemy in my garden‘ she sings on the closing track. Very true – but it’s also supplanted itself to our stereos. Long may it remain there, whether that is to dance to or stargaze to.