[…continued from previous post]
“Because My Heart” began deceptively, with a series of descending, rather jazzy piano triplets before the surprising inclusion of a pedal steel guitar brought the melody to the table for this “after the affair” breakup song of quiet resigned anguish. The piano kept the rhythm throughout the song ending it exactly as it had begun it. This was the first track on the album to feature much of the classic China Crisis lineup, suggesting that it had been begun nearly 20 years ago. This must be fact because the drummer here was the first of several posthumously released Kevin Wilkinson mandolin/drum performances on this album. Long-time fans might remember that Wilkinson [League Of Gentlemen, China Crisis] had tragically committed suicide in 1999.
A passing of a decidedly different kind fueled the wistful and warmly affectionate elegy to a dying father in “Bernard.” The music here was gentle and muted; even moreso than the normally mild-mannered China Crisis sound. Gary Daly was dry and up front as he celebrated a life and its love in a clear-eyed and tender manner that I found rather stunning. It would be too easy to get bogged down in maudlin over emoting, but Daly had not time for that here. He offered instead a haiku-like series of warm observances and non-possessive love that almost managed to make me regret not having offspring to say such things on my deathbed.
“Phillipa misses you, she is sad
She is spending time, looking back
Nothing changes, nothing real
Nothing changes how we feel
We are all here by your side
Surrender to the blinding light
One last time
We are all here by your side
Surrender to the blinding light” – “Bernard”
This one also featured Wilkinson on guitar/drums and one of the most wonderful things about this track were the airy, expression backing vocals of Nina Jones and Molly Daly [Gary’s daughter] which evoked the great Wendy Smith of Prefab Sprout as they gorgeously mirrored the piano and horn lines. Piano played, incidentally by one “Howie Jones,” Possibly better known as Howard Jones? Could very well be.
After such a beautiful elegy, the energy level amped up a tad for the gorgeous “Joy And The Spark,” the third consecutive song with Wilkinson drums. The rhythm here from Wilkinson was motorik, albeit at such a low bpm it barely registered as such. Daly’s synth got the sunny hook fluttering through this song concurrent with his piano. China Crisis exist to create warmly yearning songs like this one. Hearing a track like this only served to remind me how much I’m lacking when China Crisis are inactive.
Most of the classic band lineup all contributed to “Being In Love” and while most of the songs here were solitary Daly or Lundon tracks, this one doesn’t hurt for involving the whole band in writing. In fact, it sounded like a victory lap at successfully revisiting the “Flaunt The Imperfection” sound, albeit with even better writing. The mellifluous music here was coupled with a chorus packed with contrapuntal melodies via multiple backing harmonies and synths offsetting Stuart Nisbet’s richly sustained lead guitar solo.
Next: …More than words can say