‘Dream Darling’ is the sublime new album from The Slow Show, out 25th November on Haldern Pop Recordings. The first single from the album is ‘Ordinary Lives’, available to stream & download now on iTunes and Spotify.
‘Dream Darling’ is an album that any adult who’s lived a little can identify with; there is a hard-won optimism in its 10 graceful songs. This is music made by five men who, as singer Rob Goodwin explains, have “gone through the typical life-changing experiences that men in their late thirties and forties experience”. Whether that’s the romantic regret of the Tindersticks-inflected drama of ‘Breaks Today’ or overcoming loss in the album’s towering centrepiece ‘Ordinary Lives’, this is music to live in.
There are few bands who are aware of how potent a weapon silence can be in their music. As their name implies, The Slow Show have both a magisterial beauty to their sparse songs and the confidence to let their spellbinding four-minute stories find their mark. Rarely since The Blue Nile has a band created such a powerful, fully realised world from what initially appears such a minimal framework.
Having gone on tour in Germany and Switzerland almost immediately after the band formed in 2010, The Slow Show are a major cult concern and festival regulars in mainland Europe, where they’re signed to Haldern Pop Recordings, the label formed by the team behind the successful festival. At home, their music has been championed by DJs at BBC 6 Music and Radio 2 ever since their debut EP, 2012’s ‘Brother’.
After taking four years to assemble, last years debut album ‘White Water’ was a more aggressive, angry affair, topped off by Goodwin’s mordant baritone vocals. It’s a startling rumble that bears comparison to Leonard Cohen and Mark Lanegan but, on ‘Dream Darling’, Goodwin has honed his vocal range to become a compelling storyteller. He’s a singer who’s now able to narrate the jilted-at-the-altar heartbreak of ‘Last Man Standing’ or ‘Hurts’ tale of a man offering redemption to a sex worker with the necessary levels of wit and pathos, as well as convincingly crooning into the mic.
‘Dream Darling’ was recorded at a farmhouse in the Lake District and produced by Goodwin and Fred Kindt, The Slow Show’s keyboardist. The band would start at 8am and record until 2am, with the night-time studio sessions partly inspired ‘Dream Darling’s title. “It’s an album written in the dark and worked on late at night. It feels quite a dreamy record. The alliteration is deliberate – I think alliteration is an official theme now for The Slow Show, following the band name and ‘White Water’ for the first album title.”
Having experimented with orchestration on ‘White Water’, they were determined to push the classical influences further this time, recording with a choir in Berlin and letting them carry the vocals in places – most notably the soaring wordless finale ‘Brick’, which is the perfect, tear-jerking climax for the album’s theme of change.
The album’s other key guest is local Manchester singer Kesha Ellis, who sings the devastating duets ‘Hurts’ and ‘Last Man Standing’. “I don’t find traditionally ‘great’ singers so interesting. Kesha doesn’t sing much, but the texture and tone in her voice are beautiful.”
While they’re proud of Manchester’s heritage, musically The Slow Show stand apart, influenced more by Sigur Ros than New Order or The Stone Roses. “But seeing how many great bands come from Manchester makes you realise you can make it, and that’s important,” says Goodwin.
Dream Darling is a record that shows anything is possible too. Any change and upheaval can be overcome. No matter how gentle the beauty of their songs, The Slow Show are a band worth shouting about from the rooftops.
The Slow Show: Rob Goodwin (vocals); Fred Kindt (keyboards); Joel Byrne-McCullough (guitar); James Longden (bass); Chris Hough (drums)
The Slow Show, UK headline tour November 2016:
Nov 25 London, Bush Hall
Nov 26 Bristol, The Louisiana
Nov 27 Ramsgate Music Hall
Nov 28 Leeds, Brudenell Games Room
Nov 29 Manchester, Gorilla