Having already caught the critics’ ear (Radio 1, Channel 4) as front-man of acclaimed Scottish alternative rock quartet Thula Borah, Lloyd James Fay embarks on his first foray into solo territory with the highly anticipated release of his debut LP, The Black River Chronicles.
Recorded in 2012 at the famous Gargleblast Studios in Hamilton with renowned engineer and producer Andy Miller, who’s production credits include albums by such Scottish luminaries as Mogwai, Arab Strap, De Rosa and Martin John Henry, The Black River Chronicles is truly a testament to Fay’s prowess as one of the UK’s most gifted troubadours.
Lloyd James Fay is a profound artist; forthright, sophisticated, somewhat rustic and yet essentially urban in outlook. But there a few things he never seems to exhibit: crudity, indifference, or misplaced contempt. Instead he appears vulnerable, exposed and downright honest on “The Black River Chronicles “, an album of remarkable breadth, depth and ambition.
It is precisely his lack of sneering superiority that makes “The Black River Chronicles” such a treat. The lengthy, poem-like songs, the complex instrumental arrangements and daunting folk- pop structures could all have turned into an ego-trip gone wild. But that doesn’t happen. Instead, we are treated to a collection of songs so delicately fresh and honest; I hardly know where to start.
From the sweet quietness of the opening number “Among The Reeds”, to the acoustic-guitar picking of the “Unwanted Children” that follows, you get a glimpse of what will unfold. Imagery follows tone follows place follows events, both personal and social in a seamless fashion. By the time we are through with “ Such Are Memories”, the third track, Fay has already taken us through a small symphony of experiences.
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The pensive mood is further enhanced with “From The Eyewall”, a love song that reflects on Fay’s first love and all the drama that went with it. If this one doesn’t make you choke a little, check your pulse as Fay draws your attention to the flaws in every heart.
Each song is presented so compassionately and with such openness that it is frankly above criticism and simply becomes a part of the undeniably intense listening experience. Whatever truths and doubts Fay sings about, are absorbed almost automatically by the listener, whether or not the lyrics have been clearly understood. At every verse, bridge or chorus, you always understand what he means perfectly, by just feeling his music.
I could continue endlessly, but really I would rather, that people simply listen to this album all the way through…carefully. Good headphones would be preferable for this album. To shuffle the songs or pick out a few is almost a crime; the “The Black River Chronicles” is a complete work of astonishing depth, somewhat melancholy but never depressing. It demands to be heard in sequence, in its entirety. The songs flow into one another and the work is a singular one, not a bunch of tracks assembled and released.
The more you get into the lyrics on “The Black River Chronicles “, the more you want to know about the stories behind them too. Call it hypnotically engaging, because of its layer upon layer of organic sound or because of the picturesque poetry, either way Lloyd James Fay has completed an introspective voyage of immense proportions that you’ll find very hard to resist.
The Black River Chronicles album and lead single From The Eyewall are released on Platform Records. Release date is June 10th 2013.
OFFICIAL LINKS AND WEBSITES:
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