The MTV years gave us a certain idea as to what a music video should look like, and somewhere along the way we lost track of everything else. However, there is something ultimately compelling in a visual that draws on motion picture and score rather than the micro-narratives and familiar set ups that we usually revert to.
Which is perhaps why Elizabeth Hughes’ latest offering, Too Late, is the five minute feature film you really should see.
Following on her from solo debut last year with Video Shoot, Hughes comes to this project having made a name for herself as a guitarist to watch with her band Phantastic Ferniture. And although her solo material beautifully showcases her skill across a fret board, it also places Hughes as a phantastic songwriter.
Too Late leans towards a languid, pensive style, with a delicacy of arrangement showing that Elizabeth Hughes’ light touch is unerring.
Returning home to her parents’ house in the mountains last year, Hughes set about her plans to record an EP which is expected to be released some time in 2017. When we spoke to Hughes back in August, we predicted that she would go places; which is exactly how the video for Too Late arrived.
The footage for the clip was shot during a family trip to Europe. Accompanied by close friend and videographer Martin Berzins, Central Portugal and the Algarve became the setting for the gorgeous visual accompanying Too Late.
Filmed outside of a church in the medieval town of Coimbra and along the coastline, the clip draws on the nostalgic magic of 70s home video and beautifully framed arthouse movies.
Capturing fleeting moments, it matches up to the wistful track and Hughes’ poignant guitar work. Sepia tones frame voyeuristic observations of the town and of Hughes herself. Sun-bleached shots of the rocky European coastline are faded with the kind of heat haze that only seems to exist in overexposed vintage film.
The track itself is a soft heart wrench, more of a question than a narrative delivered through the gently picked, caramel toned electric guitar and Hughes’ breathy vocals. Mirrored in the visuals, the sense of a story is tangible but untold – and you would almost rather remain ignorant in your own imaginings.
Thunderous percussion ushers in the impression of a coming storm in the distance, never quite breaking but promising impending and catastrophic drama.
In her solo work Hughes has shown herself to be a talented songwriter with an ear for when to take her foot off the pedal, and when to just let it ride. It can be rare for a music video to be much more than a promo tool, but in the same way, the clip for Too Late shares a palatable empathy with the song.
And if you want to see Hughes launch her upcoming EP, make sure you head along to the Golden Age Cinema and Bar, Sydney on May 4. She has also announced live shows supporting Julia Jacklin in the same month, alongside Jaala.