Saturday, September 12, 2015

Song of the day

"Lighthouse", by Colleen.

I will be very surprised if Colleen's "Captain of None" doesn't sit at the top of everybody's album of the year lists. Okay, not surprised. But disappointed. It is a wonderful album, brilliantly simple in construction, but emotionally complex. It somehow manages to convey both warmth and space, so that it would work equally well at a summer barbecue and around the fireplace on a cold winter's night. That's not as easy as you might think.

Essentially the album is a combination of viola da gamba and the human voice, embellished with a healthy dose of reverb and other effects. "Ah, Arthur Russell's 'World of Echo'", I hear you say. And of course that equally remarkable record provides an obvious touchstone. But listening through the album, you also hear other reference points: mid-seventies Jamaican dub (a melodica even appears on one track, confirming other, perhaps more ambiguous sightings); Forest Swords' inversions of the dub template; Virginia Astley's "From Gardens Where We Feel Secure"; and perhaps a little Penguin Cafe Orchestra. Not that "Captain of None" is merely a pale reflection of its lofty sources. It is a record that can, and does, stand on its own two feet.

It is on "Lighthouse" that the Virginia Astley and Forest Swords (and, I guess, Penguin Cafe) references are most directly felt. I think you will spot them.

"Lighthouse", in its recorded version, doesn't seem to reside on the internet. (I have put a copy of it here (right-click etc), to allow you to listen, and will leave it up for a couple of weeks, if nobody minds.)

I did, however, find a clip of Colleen in performance; she somehow manages to convey the vibe of the original; it is perhaps instructive to watch it happening in real time.