This is Neil's fourth album and the first one that I've heard. He's apparently an acclaimed Folk singer from Sheffield who's backed by some well-known musicians including MB Boulter from The Lucky Strikes. Apparently it was conceived as one piece and most of the songs were recorded in one take.
It opens with the slow ruminative Old Glory Blues that sets up an atmosphere of quiet despair and melancholy that gives way to the string laden and quite lush melancholia of Forlorn Hope that reminds me a bit of fellow Sheffielder's The Payroll Union, it also had a rather fine guitar solo at the end of it.
Danse Macabre really slows things down to a barely there crawl before a tale of despair of the wolf taking all your possessions unfolds at mope speed to make sure the desperation of the situation is clear. Land Of Cockaigne seems even slower like a party pack of Valium has kicked in and you are just floating and dreaming of Cockaigne and pleasure with some odd synth bleeps and very understated organ that sounds like it wants to lull you to sleep.
As I listen to Atlantis I'm wondering if it's one of the tracks with the vocals recorded using a Binaural Microphone Like Lou Reed used to in the late 70's not that this sounds like anything by Lou being much more pastoral like you're in a quiet forest sitting ruminating and getting lost in the surroundings as he sings of a battle as if he wants to feel at peace with what he's seen and done and can't erase as he searches for that Coat that's worth wearing.
I do hope Strangers Of Maresfield Gardens is about Hampstead and Freud's home, even if the sparse desolation being created in the music is more low level horror in the dark of the forest ambience as the wind blows through and we discover that Neil's Mum was a Mastodon yeah definitely Freudian as the music grows and the storm encompasses what's left at the end of the battle.
Waving Not Drowning is sad and morose for the state of understanding the devastation post battle at a gentle dosed with melancholia pace like most of the album it's taken a good few listens to get into this album and it will need a few listens to really get these songs and everything that's going on in the lyrics and the music. The gentle despair in the stories being told as sometimes the music seems to finally becoming a bit brighter as happier times may be approaching.
Not too bright though as The Night Watchman appears to comfort us over a very slow careful strum to help us go to lay down in the forest and dream of a lost love and to apologise for what went awry.
The album then closes with easily my favourite song on the album and the only one that I got on first listen as the call starts to build from a slow opening the guitar sounds like it is just humming out the amp to begin with before it goes all Crazy Horse meets the Miracle 3 and also sounds a good bit like The Payroll Union again and as The Clash once sang It's up to you not to hear the call well this is one call you should hear. This one is about what sorts of Call's you might hear and how they could affect you. This is the song that needs to be heard most from this album.
Find out more at www.neilmcsweeney.com