Wind in Sails -Darker Nights
Record Label: Self Released
Release Date: October 31, 2013
Wind in Sails is the solo project of Ex-Vanna vocalist, Evan Pharmakis, who left the post-hardcore juggernaut in 2012 along with then-drummer, Chris Cambell. Just before departing, Pharmakis released a couple of acoustic solo songs via Youtube, under the name Wind in Sails.
Fast forward to 2013, and Wind in Sails has already released their first album, Brighter Days, a heartfelt record about finding, well, brighter days in the wake of massive changes. Despite solid songwriting, the first record felt a bit scattered, and lacked the heart of Evan's solo one-take videos on Youtube, which isn't to say it didn't have a heart all on its own. However, in October of 2013, Darker Nights was released via Bandcamp, and let me say, this is a huge step forward.
Darker Nights is a five song effort that feels much more cohesive and genuine. This is a record becoming of the same man that delivered the vocals on songs like "Safe to Say" and "Scarlet Shroud." It starts with opener "Into the Night" which contains beautifully dark acoustic guitars layered over smooth melodies. This is a breakup song for the ages, and it absolutely drips with melancholy.
"Level Head", the second track, is easily the best song in Pharmakis' catalog thus far. An easygoing guitar is heard reverberating around a very emotional vocal performance, which is punctuated around the 2:37 mark, in which Pharmakis' voice strains, singing "I've always thought myself an honest, simple man/ doing all I can to keep a level head" the subtle use of harmonies on the track and the City and Colour-esque "ooooh"s in the background provide atmosphere without being overindulgent. This is the music this guy was born to write.
The next song on the album is "True North" a very folk-y number, with heartbreakingly honest lyrics about the death of a loved one. The guitar lines on this song punctuate the lyrics creating a bit of urgency, as if the song is demanding to be heard. This song will have you nostalgic before you know what's happening.
"Greenfield St." is the most upbeat track on the record with the slowest-burning chorus, and also my least favorite track from the record. I personally think it makes a much better closer than "Heart to Focus," due to it's very conclusive and semi-drawn-out ending. It is however, my best friend's favorite track, and by no means a bad song.
"Heart To Focus" closes out Darker Nights and despite my feelings about it's placement in the record, is another phenomenal example of Evan's ability to write quality music. The message is one of positivity and moving on, with soaring vocals over a strum pattern that could very easily make someone get up and dance.
Front to back the record comes in at about 20 minutes, making it very easily digestible. Though comparisons to City and Colour will probably plague him for the rest of his career, the music Evan is making as Wind in Sails has a sound of its own, thanks in no small part to beautiful vocal delivery and smartly-played guitars. By stripping down his sound and focusing more on the dynamics he can create on his own, Evan has forged five songs that have the capability to get stuck in just about anyone's head.