It never ceases to amaze me how, purely through the use of various sounds and instruments, music can imitate atmospheres and bring scenarios to mind. There are obvious instances of this with instruments that imitate certain sounds like rain, but oftentimes I come across songs that bring about an atmosphere through inexplicable means.
It’s not entirely fair to call it inexplicable, though. In the case of “Moonlight” by melodic rock band Thriving Ivory, from their 2010 release Through Yourself & Back Again, there may not be any sounds directly correlated with a moonlit night, but something in it conveys that nonetheless, with its calm softness that slowly builds from an ambient fade-in to acoustic guitar and a bass drum, finally reaching a climax as the full band kicks in.
Something about it seems to lie in the soft, distant-sounding background vocals, as well as the slight echo audible in the main vocals and the electric guitar sparsely found throughout the first two thirds of the song. It portrays a feeling of isolation from the rest of the world in the best way, being alone with just one other person as the world sleeps and the moon illuminates a grassy field.
The lyrics help convey this as well, consisting of promises of leaving the rest of the world behind, moving until the subjects can no longer do so, until they’re “dancing under moonlight.” Perhaps the most poignant part of the song comes in the bridge, as vocalist Clayton Stroope professes, “We’re all looking for something / for someone, for anything, for anyone / and I’m still looking for you.”
The atmosphere that “Moonlight” creates is so effective that it can bring you to feel like it’s nighttime while the sun is shining brightly in the sky, but the song becomes sheer magic if made to accompany the moonlight. Next time you’re taking a moonlit drive or standing outside looking at a full moon, I highly suggest you put on some headphones and drink in this song.