Tuesday, 7 December 2010
I don't really listen to many bloggers when it comes to what to listen to, but I have a few exceptions. Matthew from Song, By Toad is usually someone who I find my tastes align with on most things (but not all things), so it was strange that despite him raving about The Savings and Loan for nearly two years my first introduction to them was only a few months ago at their house gig. It was certainly a case of preconceived notions being blown out the water as the Edinburgh/Glasgow duo are nothing like I anticipated. Whilst I was gripping myself for some dirty fuzzy rock (which was really based on nothing more than Matthew's token taste) I was greeted with some of the most delicate and beautifully constructed songs I've heard in a long time. This, thankfully, transfers amazingly well on their debut album 'Today I Need Light'.
There is an amazing symbiosis between the duo as it seems that multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bush creates these wonderfully patient soundscapes as a back-drop for lead singer Martin Donnelly's world-weary and imaginative lyrics. From the very start 'Today I Need Light' seems to mix despair with beauty and 'Swallows' announces this emphatically; "time will pass/time will leave you all alone/with only swallows passing by" . This is the one of the benefits you get from having a seasoned poet (Donnelly) teaming up with a seasoned musician (ex-De Rosa and professional sound engineer), another is that the record just oozes with effortless class. A tortured darkness spines all the way through each song but there is never a case of malaise from listening. Songs such as 'Catholic Boys in the Rain' and 'Pale Water' definitely show the bands Cohen-esque tendencies, combining both folk with a sense of dreamy apprehension. The highlight of the entire album is closer 'A Pleasing Companion'. It really sums up the whole album so well; a classy, dark and beautiful lullaby. That is basically what these songs are, adult versions of lullabies, in the sense that they lull you into a sense of comfort while actually having rather dark subject matter that I'm sure everyone can relate to. "I hope you find me a pleasing companion/and someone to waste an hour with in a bar".
'Today I Need Light' is nothing like I anticipated, but the reality trumps my expectations as it is nothing short of wonderful.
The Savings and Loan - Swallows by Song, by Toad
The Savings and Loan - Pale Water by Song, by Toad
'Today I Need Light' is out not via Song, Toad Records.