It starts with a breathless, brimming affirmation of enduring love and ends with a becalmed reflection on life and loss as dusk draws in. Between these two elemental bookends Stornoway’s superb second album pauses to contemplate birth, death, family, sex, nature, joy, pain and the precise location of home. There are Turkish zithers and there are German spoons. It is the sound of one long song of life unfurling.
Singer and principal songwriter Brian Briggs describes Tales From Terra Firma as “an album of stories about rites of passage.” If there is one unifying theme it is the troublesome task of leaving behind the easy certainties of youth to wrestle with the complexities of adulthood, all the while trying to retain a sense of wonder at the world. Drawing from influences as varied as Tom Waits, John Adams and David Gilmour, with nods along the way to 19th-century poets John Clare and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, it is a multi-textured, hyper-melodic, stirringly emotional piece of work. It is also a fantastic pop record.