This is the second of my introductions to other projects by people in Song, by Toad Records bands. Nightjar’s The Moth Trap, Toad Records’ first full release, was the work primarily of Andy McKay of the now sadly deceased Celebrity Chimp, and an Edinburgh gentleman by the name of Jack Richold. Nightjar itself was just a one-off project, but Jack of course has continued to work on his own things since Andy moved to London.
One such project is The Sea is Salt, which is a partnership between Jack and a young lady called Faith, whose voice I found so incredibly beautiful on Jack’s own recording of Lady of the Calico, which I originally knew as a Nightjar song. She sang backing vocals on that particular song, but with The Sea is Salt her voice is front and centre, and fucking hell she can bloody sing.
The musical backing is so spare as to be barely there half the time. There is a little acoustic guitar, some piano, a little fiddle, but not much else really. Jack accompanies on harmonies as well, but again, not all that much. In general this music takes things out, rather than leaving them in there, to leave Faith’s vocal as by far the dominant feature.
For someone who is as talented a violin player as Jack there is surprisingly little violin on The Sea is Salt stuff, but I always like a band who can resist the temptation to throw the kitchen sink at recordings. I’ve included Bears below, because it’s really rather different from the rest of the songs on their MySpace. I’ve heard earlier recordings on there which were also quite abrupt departures from the dramatic vocals of the likes of Deloris and Kennoway and Star, so I thought I’d pop it in here to give you more of an idea of their range.
If I were to look for slight caveats to my enthusiasm, it would be that there are times when they threaten to become just a little too dramatic for my personal taste, but I don’t know enough about their wider repertoire to really say. It’s not the most significant of quibbles though, because even at their most grandiose I still really like their songs.
Whatever way you look at it, this is a very long way from Nightjar, but it’s really good, and I am somewhat surprised not to see these guys on a few more bills around the capital. But then, to do that bands often need to be a bit pushy and forward and I don’t know Faith all that well, but Jack is such a quiet, easy-going guy that I can’t see him exactly being a master of self-publicity. It’s a shame though, because I think a lot of people would like this.
And for those of you who have forgotten the version of Lady of the Calico mentioned above, it’s here. And fucking gorgeous it is too:
More at www.myspace.com/theseaissalt