This gentle army of two are husband and wife duo Steve Clarke and Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell. According to their PR, they specialise in a “British brand of intense cinematic drama”.
Their eponymous debut features twelve hymns to a guarded sense of hopefulness. Clarke says ”If the album has a theme, it’s recovery versus new self doubt”.
Despite the melancholy overtones, recovery appears to be winning. “Leave our webs, begin again” is the message of Spiders and the final track aspires towards resisting or rejecting The Ever Turning Wheel rather becoming a mere cog in a machine.
Clarke says meeting and marrying Goswell was a turning point in his life which gave him a new clarity and provided the impetus to make this album. Never Be Without You is a declaration of love and devotion whilst expressing a commitment to making a fresh start - “Let’s leave this madness far behind”.
Goswell’s presence may be crucial to Clarke but in musical terms her role in this project is more peripheral. She sings lead only on one track,Passerby, a beautiful hymn to the transience of existence. Otherwise, she is cast in a solid supportive role of delivering cooing backing vocals.
The thrust of the songs is that strength comes from within with a need for a spiritual resilience. From The Velvet Fog, it’s clear that this doesn’t depend on religious belief while in Bulletproof Clarke highlights our flesh and blood human vulnerabilities.
Elsewhere, a delicious Beach Boys glow shines over Only In Dreams and The Light Shines On Everyone. A flute refrain adds to the windswept mystical air of the former and a discreet string arrangement enhances the latter.
Overall, the warmth from this record makes it an uplifting listen while not entirely compensating for the fact that Rachel Goswell doesn’t play a more prominent role.