Shearwater Talks

Friday morn on the subway line, and it’s a frikkin’ fashion show, everybody in their extra-special Friday night clothes. The negative of a certain George Tooker painting. When They hit the subway — and They will — I kind of hope it’s on a Friday. Although I hope They don’t at all.

Me, I’m enclosed in twin tunnels of sound, earphones tuned to the extra special new Shearwater album, Palo Santo, where Mr. Jonathan Meiburg has finally come full circle. square, and rectangle into His Own, the first recent and able musician to successfully root around the same fertile fields as Talk Talk on their last two albums before they disappeared too soon, the ohmygod-I-can’t-believe-that-eighties-casualty-turned-so-nifty Spirit of Eden (’88) and Laughingstock (’91). Meiburg also has The Voice, an instrument directly evoking Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis, but also able to exert itself in a deeper, heroic tenor unlike Hollis, more akin to John Cale.

Certain other tracks have been plastered all over the net, and while they’re all good or at least interesting, I’m posting “Hail Mary” because Meiburg here combines all elements of what he does well; cloud-soft singing and piano playing leads to ascending loudness, gets sprinkled with clustered electric organ notes, and explodes, after the pause of a quiet bridge, into exactly the type of slow-tempo storm of guitar squalling Talk Talk would use to allow their songs to fall apart and end.

Shearwater – Hail Mary

The album opener, posted below, is more like Mark Hollis’s solo work, his one self-titled album, in that it features Meiburg alone onstage with a piano, more executing something personal than he is singing a song; it evolves into impressionistic washes of noise behind soft percussion and louder singing while the piano takes the lead with a repetititve, six note riff. A violin peaks from the curtains with dual notes.

Shearwater – La Dame et La Licorne

Buy Palo Santo at Amp Camp when they begin selling it.

And for damn good measure, and to stay within the loosening margins of Lost 80s Friday, here’s a rare-ish Talk Talk track that comes before the longer, spacier work of the their last two albums, but is interesting at least for expanding the song structures of their poppier hits:

Talk Talk – It’s Getting Late in the Evening

Oh, and lyrics? I rarely have any idea what Hollis sings about, or for that matter, what Shearwater is getting at on Palo Santo. But I don’t care. I read books for words, and I listen to music for the sound.


10 thoughts on “Shearwater Talks

  1. You read books for words? I read books to get chicks. Is Talk Talk one of those bands where you had to be there?


  2. Chicks read books to get J Frank Parnell. Talk Talk is a comeback story. They had the sense to clean up their act, rather than let their rhythmn section out-do them solo, or make an album with their girlfriends. No one from the Chills ever left their band, neither.


  3. The Chills were founded during a game of musical chairs. Some periods were more musical than others.


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