Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Record Review - The Pictish Trail

The Pictish Trail
Secret Soundz Vol.1
Fence Records

Words: Andrew Cleary

The Pictish Trail – Secret Soundz Vol 1Johnny Lynch, the Pictish Trail, helmsman of the good ship Fence Records is, as anyone who has heard his work will attest, a talented chap. He has been impressing, both solo and as part of King Creosote's band, for some time now, so this debut album proper is certainly eagerly anticipated. And it is worth the wait. It kicks off with Secret Sound #2, one of the electronic non-sequiturs that intersperse the album, then we have the first high point in "All I Own" – initially appearing on last year's "Don’t Fudge With the Fence Made" compilation, it is an incredible song, contemplative yet full of wonder. It also gives the first glimpse of the beauty of Lynch's vocals – pitched somewhere between the aforementioned KC and Liam Hayes (aka Plush), they have a real fragility but also an instant charm that makes virtually every song immediately singalongable. Next up is "I Don't Know Where To Begin", which displays a quality of song writing that puts most "bigger" artists to shame. Other highlights are "Winter Home Disco", which signals a more upbeat change of pace and features the unmistakeable vocal talents of James Yorkston, "The Lighthouse" featuring a gorgeous opening guitar line and "Into the Smoke", a relative epic that would sound out of place on neither the biggest nor smallest of stages.

That last comment pretty much sums up the feeling that the listener gets from this album. While it encapsulates all of the finest qualities of the Fence Records output – warmth, a homeliness, lyrics that tug at your heartstrings yet make you smile and melodies to die for – it also has numerous songs that sound huge. Songs which one could imagine being heard by a great many more people. That is, of course, not to say that record sales should be equated with quality by any means, but it does frustrate that the public at large buy so much rubbish while songs of this quality might go unheard by the majority of the population. Still, it is exciting to imagine what the future holds for a songwriter of the quality of the Pictish Trail, and for now I, for one, am delighted to be in on these secret sounds.

1 comment:

AC said...

Whoops, I hear from my sources that the "unmistakeable vocal talents of James Yorkston" are indeed mistakeable, and that it's just Pictish singing on 'Winter Home Disco' - I could've sworn I heard JY in the background there, but I stand corrected!