We live in an age where the musical backstory has become an art form in its own right, bombarded by the life story of TV hopefuls who “really want this” or “want to dedicate this song too my…” It is strength sapping in its transparency. But music always comes with a back story, often subconsciously guiding the artists hand, informing it through experience, understanding and most of all, honesty. So any backstory which includes leaving conventional band approaches behind, decamping to art school, becoming a Samaritan and washing up on a Buddhist retreat in Western Scotland to cook, meditate and write songs again is going to be the only one that piques my interest.
It is perhaps unsurprising that there is a gentle hush and wonderful restraint to the triptych of songs that make up Home, being conceived in a woodland hut surrounded by ancient sycamores, wandering livestock with the elements and colours of the Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop. Made up of just piano, cello and a wonderfully soulful voice, with the occasional beat to add some drive, it is difficult to think of anyone making anything similar musically speaking. Look at the individual components, classic piano-pop balladry, down beat but far from meloncholic tones, Damien Rice-esque use of space and anticipation, the brooding undercut of the cello and a late night comfort which feels like a jazz channel playing on the radio in the next room, and you might argue that these are well used building blocks. Put them all in one place and weave them around and through each other and the result is wonderfully unique.
Reflective, emotive, deftly wrought and using only what is absolutely necessary to serve the song and find its perfect voice, this is a lesson in how to make subtle and supple music in a world which favours bombast and bluster.