James Smith – one of the hardest working musicians and label owners we know – returns with a new album under his Good Good Blood moniker. ‘Celebrate’ is a mammoth collection of 18 songs with observations on life, death and everything in-between at their core…
The record opens in typically understated fashion on ‘7.47am (Eyes Wide Open)’ – a mainly instrumental track that has echoes of a hushed Neutral Milk Hotel – before things take a hypnotic turn with the title track. This song has a crystalline sound, bursts of guitar and rhetoric questions that grab you on first listen: ‘No time to hide? What do I see?’ There’s a more traditional and melodic alt-folk sound on ‘Wrap My Arms Around You’, an introspective piece about finding comfort in a companion: ‘You are always in the know and always tell me how to take it slow’.
‘Ain’t No Wake’ appears to be about the feeling of having loved and lost – ‘All my days, they are the same, now you are gone’ – with piano interludes piercing through the sparse sound and heartbreaking lyrics: ‘I’d never lose when you were by my side’, while ‘Coming On Strong’ sounds somewhat akin to a stripped back Broken Social Scene, complete with a zesty chorus: ‘You’re coming on stong and I like the feeling, you’re coming on strong and I like the change’. ‘Birds and Bees’ has words about feeling lonely and finding a suitor lovely as pianos falter before ‘Only Dreams’ takes the album into a more nightmare-ish soundscape with the haunting remark that ‘They are lonely dreams’.
‘Were You Ever Mine?’ continues in this darker territory as James finds solace in the fact ‘I’ve got my wine’ over a series of garage rock riffs, before the jangle pop of ‘Body of Love’ brings things back into a more optimistic space: ‘You could be the one that comes and saves me’; ‘Forever and a day, we’ll be together, no matter what they say, I’m always yours’. The record draws to a close with the waltzy atmospherics and traditional folk sound of ‘Go Out and Seek’, a song that touches on religion and its impact on impending death – ‘Before you die, you must choose a hymn’ – before going back and living in the moment: ‘Drink ’til you’re sick on that cheap, nasty gin’.
‘Celebrate’ is an expansive record you’ll want to raise a toast to.
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