25th Sept 2015
When I first heard this, it seemed simple, sappy, faux-naive, singer-songwriter stuff but, since then, it’s featured daily on my headphones. This is the sort of simplicity that makes for a minor classic, something that fuses the widescreen tone of Tim Buckley with a Jonathan Richman lyrical mendacity and mixes in a slab of pure psychedelia. This is true psychedelia – not the overly complex stuff I keep hearing that is supposed to be trippy – this is gently moving, the simple waves of simple lyrics riding simple but huge melodies that massage the brain. Burbling finger picking guitar (almost North African) introduce many of the refrains, ushering in choirs and the odd bit of string synth and pedal steel guitar. In the later stages of the album (Alone Again), I sense a Serge Gainsbourg influence, with restrained and refined melodies from the mid-seventies period.
Songs like Make A Getaway bring in deeper colours and moods before a corny yet awesome chorus refrain. “I am the light”, Findlay sings, in about as psychedelic way as he can, recalling a snatch of The Polyphonic Spree. The album swaps between Nick Drake and cinematic soundtrack. Then just when I think I have a handle on it, a little track like Emeralds comes along, smelling of minimalist composer, Steve Reich or Beyond The Void, with its taste of Philip Glass. At other times, something like All Is Love is a warm and comforting blanket. “Bright is the morning, warm is the sea”; lyrics are about feelings, sensations, love, regret, communion, somehow simple and a tad mystical at the same time.
Amazingly eclectic, this is Brown’s third album, borrowing from everywhere. It seems he arrived in New York from Yorkshire and drew influences from every element of the melting pot there, even the New York-based Sufi poet-philosopher, Kahlil Gibran. You will hear few warmer and more melting albums this year.