Saturday 6 February 2016

Steven McNamara - Wake Up Lie Down

Article by KevW

As we mentioned when reviewing 'Turn Around', the first single from ex-Formes man Steven McNamara, his solo work does carry over a little of the psychedelia that his previous band dealt in, but feels much more expansive, touching on haunting blues, dreampop and Americana with a spacious and atmospheric ear. That theme is very indicative of this debut mini-album as a whole, and the change in sound was in part inspired by a personal change of location, as McNamara moved to a rural part of Lancashire prior to recording this new material.

On no track is this dusky, ethereal and ambient direction more apparent than the woozy 'Lost in Myself', where an eerie, echoing and heavily affected vocal repeats the song's title over the top of a stop/start, looping bassline and twangs of guitar that conjure up images of a dusty desert wasteland in the twilight. The vibe remains light and floaty throughout the album, as if the music is gliding through you like the soundtrack to a particularly magical dream. It's almost at odds with some lyrics which detail "a particularly tumultuous" period of McNamara's life. 'So Low' clearly references this in its title, but it's more relaxing than sad as he sings "I lost you along the way" and this is surely down to the unhurried, uncrowded yet still quite rich production.

Title-track 'Wake Up Lie Down' is a great entry point into this surreal world (making it perfectly positioned as the opener) and a single contender due to it's mildly more accessible nature, not that any of these songs are particularly difficult. Again, the lyrics which seem to be about desolation, confusion and lack of motivation could be interpreted differently with their talk of drifting away into space and being in a new state of mind. Ghostly final track 'Voices' is filled with more of these cinematic, laid-back dynamics but is more electronic, even introducing a minimal beat into the mix of chilled psychedelia. Music written about difficult times and situations can often be filled with despair or anger, but this album is more introspective and seems to be using sonic escapism as a means to coping and moving on. So rather than angst or distress we're given a strange and calming land that's seems purpose-built for drifting away in.

Steven McNamara's website

Buy: 'Wake Up Lie Down'

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