Its fair to say that the world does not have a shortage of gentle, laid back singer-songwriters. It is important, then, that those wishing to stand out from the crowd offer up a distinctive voice. Marking a significant progression from his two previous albums, with Long Mind Hotel Somerset’s Jack Cheshire displays a unique, slow-burning psychedelic alt-folk sound that deserves to reach a wide audience.
Key to the album’s success is Cheshire’s decision to work with Drummer Jon Scott, Double Bassist Andrea DiBiase and electric guitarist David James Pearson. All three are primarily jazz musicians and Cheshire gives them the freedom and the space to improvise. This perfectly compliments both Cheshire’s unusual finger picking guitar style and soft melancholy voice. There is a dreamy psychedelic feel to the songs that are united by a spiralling, weaving quality that compliments lyrics that frequently reference to spinning, be it ‘rolling’, ‘spinning’ or ‘revolving’. The result is a dizzying and original sound at times reminiscent of Nick Drake, The Beta Band and Tunng but at all times unmistakably his own.
The album has a notable focus and intensity, which can perhaps be attributed to the fact that it was recorded over merely five days at the isolated Sawmills Studio in Cornwall, accessible only by a boat at high tide. Cheshire says that this is an album to be listened to as an album rather than a collection of songs and he is right; the hypnotic, trance-like quality of the music works most effectively when taken as a whole.
The tone for the album is set by the aptly named opener Gyroscope, also the album’s first single. A surf guitar spirals over a wistful song about alienation before progressing to a minute and a half long improvised instrumental. The next highlight is Into The Void with a hook that sounds like its been stolen from a creepy psychedelic carousel. The highlight, though, is Postcard From Seduction, an account of the experience of anaesthesia while in hospital. The song describes the feeling of pleasant, hazy disconnect brought about by the drug, a feeling that the listener might be able to identify with by this stage of the album.
The album is not perfect. Not all of the songs have the same lyrical impact as Postcard From Sedation. The final song of the album, Moving in a Straight Line, makes an interesting use of backing vocals that could perhaps have been used to good effect at other points in the album. However, this song also serves as an indicator of the powerful effect of album. After 9 songs of spinning imagery the lyrical tone changes dramatically and we are confronted with a moving love song where the singer reflects on time’s relentless forward march. The continued repetition of the line ‘Moving in a Straight Line’ reminds us that up to now the album has done anything but. Let’s hope that this emerging talent keeps spinning a while longer.
Review by: Alfred Archer
Album Stream via Deezer
Long Mind Hotel is released on Gun 20 Records 2 Sep 2013