Archives by month/year

Tomorrow We Sail – The Shadows


Tomorrow We Sail - The ShadowsLeeds six-piece Tomorrow We Sail seem to be steering away from that city’s prevailing need for noisy stuff and heading into calmer, more melancholy territory with this, their second album. Playing host to The Shadows is Manchester-based Gizeh, an interesting label that sees its role in nurturing their bands as an important part in the continued growth of both label and band. Amassing a diverse and impressive roster, Tomorrow We Sail fit right on in with their desire for moody atmospherics as strong as their need for melody.

The band encompasses all manner of instrumentation; I see harmonium, harp and glockenspiel listed amongst the usual items and they also have a dedicated string player in the shape of Angela Chan, who also lends her talents to the likes of Lanterns On The Lake and label-mates A-Sun Amissa. The seven tracks presented here therefore have a full palette of texture, but this is not at the expense of clarity. Tomorrow We Sail understand the need for space and there is plenty of that in the gently unfolding soundscapes that grace our ears.

Opener “Side By Side” unfurls towards us with gentle guitar and violin interplay, the dual vocals of Alistair Hay and Ella Blake blending sweetly, and after a short time the drums come through and set the track on its steady course. They are the sort of band that would have sat really well on Quarterstick, in that they blend a kind of subtly simmering post-rock tension with delightful, slightly mournful string accompaniments that draw the listener in. They are too English, though, for that label, which is why they sit well on Gizeh.

Both vocalists have one toe in the folk camp with their enunciation and delivery, particularly Ella, who has a kind of purity that is drawn out when singing solo. When the band join in for a chorus though, as on “Home Fires”, we could only be standing on an English beach in winter in the cold light of a new day, that distinct monochrome that only northern Europe can produce. The band’s sound is bathed in that kind of half-light, those tones of greythat are so majestic and yet carry a melancholic heart.

They know well how to draw the listener towards the speakers, with a subtle intro leading to a promise of much more. When the drums arrive on “The Shadows”, the song is gently set on its way as if bobbing about at the edge of a lake, just waiting for that gust that will take it into deeper waters. The production on the album is incredibly subtle; the instrumental embellishments that adorn each track seem to keep their distance in the mix, as if unwilling to tip the track over or make it top heavy. Everything is where it should be, but is perfectly weighted and the vocals drift high over the lapping of the instrumentation.

“Cling to me as twilight fades”, we are urged on the elegiac piano lament of “Winifred”, the poetic lines delivered in a breath which is almost swept away with the dramatic, brooding soundscape of “The Ghost Of John Maynard Keyes”. In some ways I am reminded of another Leeds band that I used to love, iLiKETRAiNS; that stately, almost sombre tempo with the majestic sound somehow made all the stronger by the air that they allow in. Their very English melancholic view of history is apparent, particularly on “The Ghost…”: “They kept me at the kitchen table, scraping pennies to keep father at home”. Just that line transports you back to Victorian times, and as the sound swells around the echoing words with a touch of A Silver Mount Zion reverbed drama for company, we could be right there.

“Draw up the bridge, drive the doubters into the sea” — final track “The Golden Elevator” leaves us with our ears ringing, sky-saw guitar drifting in the background. The sweep of the strings, the solidity of the drums, wrapping everything up a misty romanticism, us against them with the most memorable line: “Something much more than this, if anything’s been lost, it’s togetherness”. This may have been delivered from behind some ancient barricade, but the band themselves couldn’t be more in tune. It is the sort of thing I am really happy to immerse myself, just enough poignancy and melancholy to make you think, but enough vibrancy to make you smile. Long may they sail.

-Mr Olivetti-

> Print this page

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>