Friday, 19 September 2014
EP Review - Song, by Toad Split 12" Volume 3 - David Thomas Broughton / Siobhan Wilson / Jonnie Common / Sparrow & The Workshop
This third Song, by Toad Split 12” compilation is anything but the 'Low Fidelity Recording' it claims to be on the front cover of the sumptuous phlegm green vinyl. A truly diverse mix of talent plucked from the Insider Festival 2013, transported to a Georgian living room appropriating a studio and resembling the regular Edinburgh home of previous Song, by Toad Record releases, with festival constrains dictating recording conditions, this rather superb mix of sounds was let loose and recorded.
Two tracks from David Thomas Broughton form the bookends of this compilation. With a vocal which pastes John Martin with Damien Jurado and Edwyn Collins, Broughton delivers a sound and vocal reminiscent of a long lost gothic spirituality. Always threatening to diffuse, detour or derail at any moment, an uncertainty which engages and compels the listener to follow the narrative. As individual tracks, My Ageing Heart is Slowly Killed and Drifting Snow both ease the listener into this collection and deliver them to a conclusion which defines this Split 12” in its complexity and contrast.
Jonnie Common gets the lion share of track allocation, a man not unfamiliar with compilation album production himself, released from his Deskjob, here he gets a chance to deliver his own blend of electro/folk/poetry nodding as it does along the way to the very best of King Creosote. Jonnie Common is a pleasure to behold, a freshness and humour which mixes genres into a cocktail of intoxicating sweetness. Summer is For Going Places is pure pop and could quite easily make for a summer sensation on any given year. Mixing what would appear to be banjo and harmonica (for no one is ever entirely sure), this tune isn’t afraid of itself at all, punctuated perfectly by metronomic vocals, Jonnie delivers his summer smash! The second track, So and So is a brief piano accompanied insight into human love and suffering "pained by the frailty of human beings". Too true Jonnie, too true. And finally we have a percussive acoustic rap by the name of Shark. No boundaries for Jonnie as the fluid lyrics sidle up to synth pop solos. This one has teeth for sure but no need to fret "the shark won’t bite me, he’s too suburban".
A double offering from Sparrow and the Workshop begins with Valley of Death which combines vibrato guitar, a crisp compelling vocal and a tale of love lost and contemplation too late to change. The second track is a rather lovely, almost Cowboy Junkies version of Chalkhill Blue by James Yorkston, which flits from melody to solemnity and back again, carrying Dylanesque lyrics on the crest of ever threatening rhythm and intermittent tempo and dark and distorted interludes.
With a single contribution to the collection, Siobhan Wilson steals the show with Dear God. Now preferring to go under the alias of Ella The Bird - for whatever reason I don’t know, but I do like it - this is a masterpiece of a song. Siobhan (or Ella) relies on her tried and tested combination of solo guitar and sweet voice to deliver a wretched appeal for forgiveness and a cry for a mothers love to share. With an interlude taken seemingly directly from Murmuration by Jo Mango or any Kate Bush tragedy, Siobhan Wilson gives us what must compare with the best of her recordings to date and sits proudly alongside the tour de force which was her live rendition of Joni Mitchell's A Case of You at the Glasgow Concert Hall. A stunning track and worth the money for the album on its own.
All compilation albums should be like this. A fine mix indeed and one which Matthew, of the label, is quite rightly "really proud" of. A true gem indeed and the best Split 12” from Song, by Toad Records yet. Next please.
- Bobby Motherwell
Song, by Toad Split 12" Volume 3 is available via Song, by Toad Records now. You can purchase the vinyl in all good record shops and digital copies are available via online music retailers, or you can order online here.