Mariner’s Willow by Jeff Stonehouse is a recording that is dedicated to his mum and imbued with her spirit. The piano and guitar work together on the recording mimic the ebb and flow of the sea which was an important part of her life. The sounds of nature heard on the album were recorded near Stonehouse’s mother’s home in the South Downs on the last day she spent there. Deep in the mix are the vocals of Alicia Merz, one of his mother’s favourite singers. Stonehouse is keen to point out that the album is intended as a celebration of his mother’s life and is not supposed to be a sad work.
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This self-released thing is possibly the most honest, heartfelt thing that has crossed these ears for a while. It’s an album dedicated to his mum, who passed away in April this year, and serves as a celebration of her time on Earth, the things she enjoyed and her creations, like Jeff.
She loved the sea, you see, so the wandering around of stretched guitars and pianos is like flotsam caught on the tide, their sombre, carefree melodies sounding an ode. There’s a wee pic of her on the back cover, shades on like a cool cat, doing whatever Brenda does by the sea. Ponder? Build massive sandcastles? Kitesurfing? Who knows. By the sounds of this, she was pretty peaceful regardless. All of the field recordings here were made on the last day that she spent in her house in the South Downs, which, as the first thing you hear on the record, gives a haunting impression, each bird call seeming like it reflects a lack of human presence. But when the melodies begin the tone changes - it becomes a continuous, fond memorial. For those that need soothing.
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