Having seriously enjoyed recent singles, Bluebird, Hollywood… Domino and That Chitty Bang Majik, there was no denying we had nurtured real intrigue to explore the new album from The Gorstey Lea Street Choir and fair to say …from Prince’s Park to Farsley – Volume I has not disappointed.
Across eight tracks it is an encounter which takes the listener upon a journey of invention and striking surprises, a release which in some ways comes in two parts as the band unveils their hungry imaginations. The band itself is duo Michael Clapham and Russ Phillips, two long-time friends who met as teenagers in the mid-’80s though it was not until 2016 that they brought long discussed plans to creatively unite to reality with The Gorstey Lea Street Choir.
The band’s first single, The British Isles, which was inspired by Joe Strummer’s infamous MTV speech ‘Without People, You’re Nothing’ quickly drew attention and support and last year both were escalated by a following single and 2020 debut EP, extended play one+. As captivating as all proved to be, …from Prince’s Park to Farsley – Volume I takes things to a new level in adventure, drama and pure magnetism.
The album consists of four new tracks recorded in the band’s hometown of Burntwood, Prince’s Park which is registered in the Guinness Book of Records as the UK’s smallest park within its confines, and four from that earlier EP re-imagined in the town of Farsley by the band with Choque (The Hollow Men, Black Star Liner). With production, mixing etc. for the album including the prowess of Gavin Monaghan (Robert Plant, Editors, Squeeze), George Shilling (Blur, Primal Scream, Teenage Fanclub) and Ride frontman Mark Gardener, …from Prince’s Park to Farsley – Volume I quickly gripped ears and thoughts.
Up With The Larks starts things off, the track caressing intrigue straightaway before the melancholic but radiant draw of vocals alongside piano provided by the guesting Paul Cooper (The Great Divide) breeds greater seduction. Emotive breaths and thoughts fuel the ballad, inherent infectiousness in its mood and reflection matched in the just as emotionally vital sounds given greater depths by Shilling’s cello. The track is superb, a haunting romance of shadows and similarly crepuscular hues and an irresistible draw into the release.
The following Bluebird, Hollywood… Domino has a brighter air and energy with a matching fertility of catchiness to its predecessor. With a psych rock essence to its flirtatious rhythmic stroll and melodic sway, the song rises up like a refreshing breeze around the senses. Again vocals hook ears and appetite alone, their emotive insight and intimate gaze cradled in a creative tapestry of indie pop with total manipulation and temptation springing from every passing second before One Way Ticket sets another compelling moment. There is a touch of Steely Dan to the song in some ways, a melodic soothing that wraps the nostalgia and earnest rumination and aligns to the duo’s intimate insight and rousing craft.
With its smiley southern twang and devilish grin, That Chitty Bang Majik is one of those tracks which effortlessly slip under the skin. Its folk kissed Brit/indie pop mix is just as infectious, a manipulation so potent it is soon orchestrating one’s own moves and vocal chords and confirming the already pretty impressive stature of the album.
From here the release takes the imagination on an even bolder adventure, the first of those re-imagined tracks coming in the shape of FireBoySlowBurn. It slowly sizzles as it comes into view, distant sonic charms brewing until the track in full drama steps forward. All the contagious essences of the original are at work here but now within a tenebrific soundscape that is slightly portentous, compellingly dystopian yet at the same time moodily seductive; the dark beauty and threat of the song awoken.
Cinquante Cinq Six Huit is a theatre of sound and intimation, its rhythmic gait epitomising the epic air of the song, its sound and its romantic reminiscence while Lowbyrne (Ascent) is a kaleidoscopic surround of sound and creative light with its crystaline flirtation and uplifting flaming a riveting insight for ears and imagination.
The album closing Mr. Blue Sky Boat floats through ears upon psych nurtured winds bearing dreamy implications, presenting like the previous trio individual interpretations and fantasies to immerse in and conjure with.
…from Prince’s Park to Farsley – Volume I is a treat, a bold engagement of the pair’s songwriting and sound as well as their collaborative imagination that we suggest should be among anyone’s next port of call.
…from Prince’s Park to Farsley – Volume I is out now via 500 Broadcast Recording Co.; available@ https://500broadcast.bandcamp.com/album/from-princes-park-to-farsley-volume-i
Pete RingMaster 26/08/2021
Copyright RingMaster Review