Welcome all to 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗿, a series of weekly reviews by Charles Connolly - an artist in his own right. Here, Charles delves into the greatest brand new singles brought to you by the best unsigned artists on our electrifying and eclectic set of 𝙉𝙚𝙬 𝘼𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙎𝙥𝙤𝙩𝙡𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 playlists.
Charles explains, for folk’s sake...!
I have heard that foreigners learn English from songs. Whilst I can see this being a sensible technique - “betcha by golly, wow” - it can have its drawbacks. I am he as you are he, as you are me and we are all together. Wise words. But complicated words, nevertheless. And it probably doesn’t really help much… There is you, and there is me. And there is them. There is a person, there are persons. There are people and there are peoples. And I would imagine this at times to be rather confusing. There is singular, and there is plural. Take a sheep, for example. Just hold it for a moment. Heavy, right? Now imagine carrying two of them. Two sheeps? Nope. Two sheep. Why? Because it is. Okay, you can put them down now. What about a fish? Well, what ABOUT a fish? Certainly lighter than a sheep. No legs to kick you in the groin. Have another one. Two fishes? Nope. Two fish. unexplainable, but that’s how it is. How about when you go on holiday and you’re still waiting for your two suitcases to ‘ker-chunk’ on to the sturdy conveyor belt at the airport. Surely that’s two luggages, no? No. You might even have 10, but it will always be luggage. This comes under a peculiar term called ‘uncountable nouns’. Other such uncountable nouns include water, bread, flour, rubbish, research and sand. Put all these together and you get a recipe to avoid. In fact, it can be so confusing that even native speakers have started changing the language and incorporating the foreign way of speaking. Pluralising everything. One such example that IS correct though, comes back to where I started. We say “they” when we don’t want to mention a specific gender. Despite “them” being one singular person.
But the one altered word that seems to have become the most ubiquitously used over time - mainly due to America - is Folk. We start with a plural. It cannot be a singular. People don’t seem to like this. I think it’s a bit like people always wanting to shorten forenames. David becomes Dave. Jennifer becomes Jenny. William becomes Bill - don’t ask. Unless they’re one syllable, then they want to lengthen them. Like my name, for example. Charles becomes Charlie. John becomes Jonny. Jane becomes - ugh - Janie (God help us). This obsession with needing to change words is almost an addiction these days. Folk, has apparently become “Folks”. This perhaps suggests the “cutleric” attitude of many these days: Naïves and Folks. And no, you cannot steal that for an album or song title. Well, you can, but I will come at you with a spoon.
How on God's Earth do you foreigners learn English?? I am in awe of you.
We folk at the New Artist Spotlight like all sorts of music, don’t we. Well DON’T WE?? Sorry: didn’t mean to shout. There’s rock, there’s pop, there’s hip and hop. There’s electronic if you wannit. There’s acoustic, should you choose it. But more and more (to be sure, to be sure), there is one style I spend a while with. I mentioned it last week, not a style I often seek. Please forgive me as I joke, for I have recently awoken and with all this I have spoken, it is only but a token of my gratitude for folk and that is all.
I bring you Love Crumbs and Cloudbelly. Now, Love Crumbs slipped through my net back in 2021 with their last single, and it frustrated me a little that I never exposed the world to their musical vision. I kept telling myself: "The next one. I'll review their next one. I'm sure it will be good". But their next one seemingly never came. Until now, that is. Two years on from their magnificent indie song, Ellipses, the band is finally back to brighten our horizons. Have they therefore simply been lazy since 2021? Not ruddy likely. They have been doing things like sharing the bill with Suzanne Vega!! Meaning playing in the same show, rather than splitting the cost of a meal… The Massachusetts band is a threesome, consisting of Michael Dubuque (on guitar), Ali McTavish (on vocals - usually - we’ll get to that), and Scott Wolfram (on bass). Michael, the principle songwriter of the band, had penned a new dream. A vacant dream. This is no generic love song. Although it is I suppose a love song of sorts… In being a deeply personal song, he needed it to sound a very specific way. It needed to be right. Did Michael therefore sing it himself, as you would perhaps expect? No. So then it must have been sung by Ali, the lead singer of the band? No. They had tried it, and it just didn't work. So they ventured further. But not too much further. Still in Massachusetts, in fact. Michael and the rest of the band had always admired the duo, Cloudbelly. One half of this duo is Corey Laitman, whose voice shines brighter than most. Michael took a punt. Once the trio had become a quartet, Michael knew that at least for this song, the sound was complete. This was right. THIS, was what he meant for the song all along.
A swift and subtle ear on the lyrics might make you assume this is another Christian folk song about God and his peoples etc. But on closer inspection, this is a sad and beautiful song about addiction and its evils. How the song's writer (Michael) very much loves his brother and cares for him so deeply, with the fond memories of how it used to be, and yet trying to hold back the tears for the thought of his brother not being there in the future, if he doesn't kick his drug habit. I mentioned earlier that some people have silly obsessions and addictions, but a wordy one is a relatively healthy one. An addiction to drugs is not. It is debilitating, and can often begin the end, far too early. Michael is a recovered addict, so completely understands his brother's plight. But unlike Michael, his brother is in the thick of it. And Michael can only see a downward spiral for him. As always though, there is hope. There is prayer. And there is beauty in song. But there is so far no happy ending.
The acoustic richly strums and pours in with strength and backbone. It is noble and defiant, yet accepting. The veins are visible and risen from the player’s thickly tanned hands. It is mature. And then comes our singer, Corey. Their bright white teeth obscured by thoughts. They sing with ease, like Joni Mitchell with the lonely sensitivity of Travis frontman, Fran Healy. The song ‘High and Dry’ by Radiohead springs to mind at times. And all the while, the background whispers and flickers like a déjà vu, before passing on. Soon enough, the song’s bud starts to bloom with the yawn of a rested mind. The close harmonies cluster to catch the sun. Harmonies to make you melt into your hot chocolate like a marshmallow. Sorry, that was supposed to be a beautiful image - I just imagined that poor marshmallow screaming to high heaven in the scalding brown pool. Not what I meant. Soft saxophones fill the space like dragonflies in loosely magnetised harmony. On verse two, the band joins the day with drums and guitars. A sumptuous amalgam of instruments in a tightly woven arrangement. So many subtle layers deftly and delicately placed. It is not however to be heard as its individual parts, but as a whole. The way it was intended. I also hear notes of Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen (or Jeff Buckley, if you wish). The song at times reminds me of All Who Remain by Beware of Darkness - musically, not sonically. And while this song won’t be playing in the clubs, Love Crumbs and Cloudbelly might be regular visitors of Two Door Cinema Club and Bombay Bicycle Club, mostly in terms of purity in voice. The song takes its time and walks its own pace. It is no sheep, for its makers are not sheep.
Let this be the final nail in the coffin for drugs and NOT for Michael’s brother. Don't do it. Nothing good can come from it. It is simply not worth the risk.
In the words of Porky Pig: “That’s all Folks!”
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