5th review of the 4th album

The following appeared in Penny Black Music. And is quite pleasing indeed:

"Appealing and rewarding fourth album from the music collective headed by raspy-voiced, Medway-based Stuart Turner reveals that they have lost none of their passion."

"We’ve come to expect any song with Sunday in the title to be a little reflective, possibly something to ease gently into what for many is the most relaxing day of the week. Turner opens his latest collection of fourteen songs with ‘Sunday Song’ and, although he has proved by his three previous albums that he really does create his own unique brand of music, this opening cut was far from what we expected.  

It’s a far cry from a mellow Sunday morning ballad of course, and the trumpet heavy stomper is more likely to set you up for another party than aid you in a morning after comedown despite the bleak lyrics. Those feelings of lying in bed on a Sunday morning dreading the following daybreak as the weekend comes to an end are at odds with the upbeat music. While Turner’s growl is still intact, there’s also the slight feeling that his vocals are mellowing since the last time we heard him on record; it might just be that we are becoming more accustomed to his voice though. This upbeat feel is carried into the next song, ‘The Boy Doth Protest Too Much'. This time banjo joins the trumpets and, despite Turner’s vocals still being very much an acquired taste, this opening brace of songs prove to be some of the most accessible that Turner and his band have released so far. And not only accessible but the most impressive too; while Turner & Co have lost none of the passion displayed on their previous releases so far this album portrays a more controlled emotion, one that is less likely to alienate those who are unfamiliar with Turner’s previous work. For all the darkness in Turner’s lyrics, this time he has cloaked his words with his most melodic and inspiring tunes to date.  

Even with ‘King of the Hill’ where the resonator guitar shapes the sound and the lyrics are once more bleak it takes no time at all to be drawn into the song. But maybe with ‘Unmissing’ the band break even more new ground. With Turner’s growl at its most emotional the lyrics are chilling to say the least. The song seems to concern a yet undiscovered corpse lying in a house. Again the music, especially the opening section, is at odds with the lyrical content. The melody is pretty. Turner has shadowed his lyrics with appealing melodies before, but they are often drowned out by the passion and roughness in his vocals. Here the meeting of the two works to perfection. It’s one of the most affecting and beautiful pieces of music Turner has put his name to despite the subject matter.  

The following ‘Glad I Knew You Then’ isn’t the first time that the individuals of a unrequited, adolescent crush meet again years later only to discover they have nothing in common now, but it’s rarely been injected with so much passion and with such a vividly painted image.  

‘Upon Glanderous Thrane’ is a spoken word piece voiced by James Worse, which each listener will take something different from; if you are intelligent or weird enough to decipher exactly what Worse is saying that is. Worse is featured on two tracks, the above mentioned unaccompanied track leaves this listener cold and disrupts the flow of the album while ‘A Flarch of Woundwillow’ works better; maybe due to the musical accompaniment, especially the distant banjo, complimenting the spoken lyrics so at least there’s something to hang the nonsensical lyrics onto.  

Overall this is a fine collection of songs, the playing throughout is superb. One listen to ‘Every Passing Year I Retreat More Inside My Own Head’ confirms that and lyrically the album will keep the listener entertained for hours, despite one or two missteps it’s the best we’ve heard from Turner so far."

Review by Malcolm Carter
http://www.pennyblackmusic.co.uk/MagSitePages/Review/10430/R/Stuart-Turner-and-the-Flat-Earth-Society-CD-Stuart-Turner-and-the-Flat-Earth-Society

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