It is hard to say the prime lure of Sunny Day Machine and indeed the sound of Scottish quartet St. Christopher Medal; whether it is the melancholic beauty, the expansive yet intimate landscapes of soulful sounds cast, or simply the emotive prowess of word and tone. Whatever the core potency, a mix of all most likely, the result is a captivating exploration which might not have you singing from the rooftops but will encourage a healthy word of mouth recommendation.
The August of 1998 saw Scotpop band Life With Nixon call it a day at Sleazy’s in Glasgow, a memorable show to round of successful adventure as a band. It has taken a fair while, but that foursome of Billy Nisbet (drums), David Mack (bass), and Ali (vocals) and Kenny Mathieson (guitar), have linked up with Andy Jeffries (piano) and returned as St. Christopher Medal. Drawing on loves and inspirations, the band has bred a sound fusing the rich essences of country rock, Americana, folk, and more, all woven into songs bred on reflection and observation, and a fair dose of personal experiences it is easy to suspect. With the first single, Vatersay Love Song, having whetted appetites the band’s debut album, Sunny Day Machine reveals more of the understated but potent depth to the band’s songwriting and sound. At times the release is a glorious arousal of the senses and imaginations, and in other times, a gentle coaxing but from its first breath to last, Sunny Day Machine just enthrals.
It opens up with the quickly beguiling Glori, its warm embrace and melodic caresses as inviting as the vocal and lyrical painting cast by the dry tones of Ali. Immersive and engaging, the song is a lively simmering graced by dazzling shades of keys and the magnetic enterprise of guitar, all merging in a sultry wash of country lined folk rock. It makes for a fascinating start to the album which continues with the tangy harmonic stroll of Vatersay Love Song and the slow dance of Leave The Boy Upstairs. Both songs take attention by the firm hand, the first with its Band of Holy Joy meets Flying Burrito Brothers croon and the second through a smoulder of keys and melodic expression cradling the increasingly potent gait of Ali’s voice. Fair to say though, they get quickly outshine by the album’s best track, Satchel Bag. The song is exceptional, an entwining of urban folk and sixties rock ’n’ roll; like Lennon and McCartney does Bob Dylan with a creative paint box provided by The Sums. More addictive with every listen, next single written all over the song, it offers yet another vibrant colour to the seriously appealing tapestry of the album.
The pair of Great Lakes Morning and The Appin Indians takes the listener into the remote charms of inspiring landscapes and emotional reflections, each venturing through their own melody thick scenery of southern twang and personal exploration. Unlike their predecessor which leapt from the speakers, the tracks spread like mist, enveloping ears and consciousness to similarly strong success before From A Zafira Comfort raises the tempo again with its keen energy and bluesy rock ‘n’ roll. Though not necessarily in recognised sound, Sunny Day Machine is a blues album of sorts but bred from an ever evolving bloom of flavouring from across the past handful of decades.
Through the crystalline charm and fuzz toned temptation of Ernestine and the excellent electric shimmering of Days Like These, band and album continue to spark the imagination with new shades of adventure spawned in that core country/Americana breeding, whilst What She Said On The Street casts a pulsating serenade of emotion and sound. All three, and especially the second of the trio, make a compelling persuasion with We Are The Medal backing them up through a summery glide across a sultry terrain of resourceful musical and lyrical incitement.
Final track West is just one more slice of melodic charm and lyrical prowess confirming Sunny Day Machine as one fascinating and enjoyable proposition. For some it will light a major fire, with others offer something highly satisfying to occasionally embrace, but for all, St. Christopher Medal have created a release to warm the heart and spark the imagination; thus providing something easy to recommend.
Sunny Day Machine is out now via Stereogram Recordings via www.stereogramrecordings.co.uk/audio/sunny-day-machine-st-christopher-medal-cddl/
Upcoming Live dates (as part of The Stereogram Revue):
Wednesday 2nd December 2015 – The Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh
Thursday 3rd December 2015 – The CCA, Glasgow
Pete RingMaster 06/11/2015
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
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