Boo Hewerdine – Swimming In Mercury
Reveal Records – 28 April 2017
Swimming In Mercury is Boo Hewerdine‘s first studio album in eight years which finds him in a reflective mind and a very melodic pop musical mood. Indeed, the opening track, Satellite Town, a song about getting out of a high-pressure environment and settling down “in a place where people love you”. It is decidedly Jeff Lynne, albeit with an unexpected sax break jazzy interlude midway and a swirly cloud fade. Then listen to the doo-wop styled My First Band, which is about what it says, and you might find yourself thinking of Aztec Camera or Prefab Sprout, which, like the tumbling melody line of Drinking Alone, pretty much captures the 80s feel that permeates the album.
That nostalgia and air of reflection can also be found on the sax intro and steady drum beat rhythm of A Letter To My Younger Self and, even more so, on The Year That I Was Born which, etched out on a simple piano note backing and gathering electronics ripple, lists major events of 1961 (the Berlin Wall, death of Hemingway, Polaris, The Beatles…). If you detect a hint of Brian Wilson there, it’s more evident on the dreamy American TV, which, with a jazzy woodwind and vibes instrumental prologue, is about looking for something better, in this case, prompted by the images of California seen on TV.
By contrast, Sleep waltzes around Michelle-era Paul McCartney before the jogging Gemini twins with the brass for more of a magical mystery trip, taking a swerve into bubbling electro-pop on The Boy Who Never Cried Wolf.
It’s back to simple pulsing piano note backing for An Atheist In A Foxhole with its spiritual musings and then Voice Behind The Curtain brings a hint of gospel to its lazing pop celebration of those who never get their turn in the spotlight, string and horns swelling the show tune feel. Underpinned by a gentle, summery drum machine beat and synth, it ends looking back again with the title track that sums itself up in the line ‘what a beautiful way to say goodbye.’
I’ve mentioned various musical comparisons, but, taken as a whole, with its lush arrangements, the affectionate homages to different musical styles from the years gone by, and the mix of playfulness and quiet poignancy in the lyrics, perhaps the artist I’m reminded of most is Nilsson. In mythology, Mercury is generally known as the winged god of messages, but he was also the god of eloquence. The album is well titled.
Swimming in Mercury is Out Now on Reveal Records
Order a Signed Copy here: http://boohewerdine.bigcartel.com/product/swimming-in-mercury-signed
Boo Hewerdine is on tour now, details here: http://boohewerdine.net/