Kieron Phelan (of State River Widening, Smile Down Upon Us and Littlebow) recorded this cosy album with Brona McVittie, Oliver Cherer and numerous others with Ian Button and Giles Barrett at the mixing desk. Lyrical themes include wayward Japanese satellite Hitomi (charmingly personified as ‘Satellite Hitori’), Scandi-noir literature, Late Middle Ages poet Geoffrey Chaucer and hippies.
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Been looking forward to this. Keiron Phelan, who I’ve loved from the moment I heard his ‘Harps Old Master’ record (with David Sheppard) as Phelan Sheppard on the Leaf label, also his excellent bands State River Widening and the folkier, neoclassical beauty of Littlebow. Here, Keiron has assembled quite the happy band of musicians for his new ‘Peace Signs’ record. It’s full of lovely little songs, charmingly sung by Phelan with deceptive whimsy masking some serious intent.
There are songs about hippies (title track, on which Phelan makes me think of Edwyn Collins' voice), wayward Japanese satellites (‘Satellite Hitori’), Ghost Box-ish rustic colours (‘Apple Shades’) and ancient English scribe Geoffrey Chaucer (track 11, ‘Canterbury’). This organic, ‘songwriter-ly’ pop is great, and I don’t always like this kind of thing. The array of musicians on the record is vast and breathtakingly impressive; an ensemble / smorgasbord of talent including: Brona McVittie on vocals and harp; Oliver Cherer, Jenny Brand, Jack Hayter, Katie English, James Stringer, the aforementioned longtime collaborator David Sheppard and Angele David-Guillou. Phew.
Some beautiful songs here; my favourite is ‘Mother To Daughter Poem’ which speaks beautifully of the nurturing relationships within a family set back in a far harsher time, in the early days of the Industrial Revolution. A timely reminder that workers have always been f*cked over.
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- Peace Signs by Keiron Phelan
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