Record Of The Week # 80

Gill Landry – Skeleton At The Banquet

There’s something enigmatic about Landry. His music has a poise and pace befitting a little mystery. His baritone bass voice luxuriates in this setting. It’s a voice that’s deep, rich and conversational. Parallels have been drawn with Leonard Cohen; when you add the crafted musings and uncluttered arrangements the comparison is complete. In terms of the album’s sound this is a similar outing to 2017’s Love Rides A Dark Horse.

Skeleton At The Banquet was written on the west coast of France a couple of years ago. Landry sought some sanctuary after a European tour. It was here, he writes, it “gave me an objectivity I didn’t even know I was looking for and led to writing this series of reflections on the collective hallucination of America and a few love songs for good measure”.

It’s a love song that starts the album – “I Love You Too”. He’s caught in a tender moment returning his lover’s declaration of love. Such is the sombre affirmation, over an atmospheric pedal steel on a tango-like rhythm, that you’re not quite sure he meant it. I found the ‘reflections’ he writes about in songs such as “The Wolf”, “A Different Tune” and “Nobody’s Coming”. These were allegories. They’re difficult to fathom. However the sound and tunes were attractive and seductive in their own right.

Landry has mastered many instruments – guitar, pedal steel, keyboards and harmonica. Often ‘less is more’ and there’s space aplenty to let atmosphere build and the message sink in. I imagine he has a considerable presence when performing live and I note he dates in Europe and the US starting in January where no doubt these songs will get an airing.

Throughout I was reminded of something mid 20th Century European with gypsy violin and simple folk rhythms. Imagine a soundtrack for a film that starts with a man in a wide brimmed hat, with his coat collar pulled up around his ears, slipping quietly by in an old central European capital at night on wet cobbled city streets creating tall shadows.

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