Music can mean different things to different people, we all remember the song that was popular or was playing when we had our first kiss or our first dance at a disco, and music, be it good or bad, becomes intertwined with the good times and, sadly, the bad times. Music we heard in our parents’ car on the way to a holiday, music playing at a funeral or while the sun sets on a memorable day, we carry these songs with us everywhere and it quickly becomes the soundtrack to our lives.
Another thing that music manages to do so effortlessly is to bring people together, people are drawn to it, either in its appreciation or, in this case, it’s creation.
For those of you not familiar with Buswell (I should also include Erik Nyberg here, his influence seems central to everything Shaun Buswell does), it’s a tricky thing to explain without missing any of the history out; part band, part conjurer, part mad scientist, what you get with Buswell is the belief that music is it’s own language and those lucky enough to speak this language can, with a little faith, become part of Buswell and the project that he has his sights set on at the time.
This is the man who decided to form an orchestra from people he met on the London Underground. If you were carrying an instrument, you were in! (There is plenty of information about his various projects online, simply go to the website – http://buswellmusic.com/about/the-challenges/)
‘Stitched Shoes and an Irish Wristwatch’ is an album six years in the making and each of the eleven tracks are poised patiently waiting to be your new favourite song.
What we have here is a group of musicians armed with anything ranging from guitar, drums, flute and mandolin to instruments associated with an orchestra such as clarinet, cello, violins and trumpet, this is by no means a stripped-back album.
The music merges and melts from track to track, often without realising you have moved into a different song (the transition from opening track ‘For the Family’ into second track ‘Language is a Virus’ is seamless) and helps the listener enjoy the album as a whole rather than individual chapters. There are moments of such deliciousness within the music that somehow this level of quality becomes the norm, the quiet moments of track 5 ‘It’s You’ that nestle the listener in a bed of strings and calm before lifting and guiding you towards the soaring finale is breath-taking. The short, yet poignant ‘Fur Mein Klavier’ (roughly translated as ‘for my piano’) sits perfectly in the track listings and conjures up images of Doctor Zhivago, you can almost smell the varnished flooring of a St. Petersburg palace.
The vocals are played out with a delicacy and fragility of a voice similar to Irish singer Damien Rice, in fact the vocals sit above the music very nicely – as you would expect from something so obviously so well planned – and, add to that the inclusion of female vocalist Zoe Mead, you have a wonderful complimentary vocal performance. I think the songs benefit massively from her voice, giving each track she appears on more balance.
There are some wonderful moments within this album, far too many to list here, and on repeat listens you find more. Interestingly the album was recorded in Sweden and I think this influence comes through in the overall sound of the album, there are spaces of calm, spaces of openness and reflection and no sense of urgency, it’s a very laid-back sounding album which gives it an other-worldly vibe.
This isn’t an album to play while you do the housework or fix a leaking bathroom tap, this is one to play while the kids are at school, when your telephone is switched off and next doors dog is asleep, it’s an album to step into and become part of and acknowledge each note, so if you’re tempted to take a step inside this collection of 11 songs, just remember to give it the time it deserves, six years of work is worth it.