By the end of the beautiful video for "I Would," Slow Dancer is cloaked in muddied white fur and dancing with ecstatic abandon on a frigid beach in Melbourne, Australia. If you don't know the romantic Australian singer-songwriter, you couldn't ask for a better introduction — it's a moment that captures the warmth, nostalgia and yearning that animates his work.
"I Would" is one of the standout tracks from Slow Dancer's recently released second record, In A Mood. Simon Okely, the man behind Slow Dancer, reanimates some of the mystical sounds and full-hearted purpose of late-'60s and early-'70s British folk here. His voice has the throaty tenderness and modest delivery of that era; the song's drums enter with a timid, lo-fi hi-hat pattern that recalls "Sweet Thing" by Van Morrison and Okely's rushed, finger-picked acoustic and breathless arrangement create a hazy atmosphere akin to Bryter Layter-era Nick Drake.
The music video, directed by Mclean Stephenson, captures that aesthetic. Mclean interposes shots of a wan Okely with the Melbourne wilderness and bits of deteriorating Super 8mm film to create a dusky, nostalgic atmosphere.
"Melbourne freezes in the winter. And it was muddy," Stephenson told NPR via email. "Everything got wet, including Simon, who I kept making lay in the dirt. He didn't complain once over the two days, although he did get sick."
Sick-making or not, Okely and Stephenson have rekindled that folk spirit here again, among the icy beaches, dry reeds and reedy acoustics of this lovely video and song.