"Let’s move on." We’ve heard that a lot recently from the UK Government in relation to the travels and travails of one Dominic Cummings while the phrase can now even slip into to discussions about Covid-19 fatalities. Such pronouncements are sweeping only in deference to carpets but in a world where populism is readily fed by two or three-word slogans, should we not worry about how easily they can be swallowed?
Earlier in the year, the Trump administration took steps to unwind the healthy school lunch rules brought in by former President Obama and championed by his wife under her, now ironically titled, "Let’s Move!" healthy living campaign. The moving on spin used to justify this seemingly backwards step was that schools know best and it will reduce food waste (shorthand for cheaper).
By contrast, songwriters show consistent productivity in mining the theme of moving on. The general tenor is an acceptance that circumstances have changed and a readiness to deal with new situations and experiences. UK artiste, Katie Malco has a remarkable album out today on 6131 Records. The title, Failures, sets up a series of hard-learned personal experiences and snapshot realisations, that add up to something quite opposite; real success. Katie Malco moves on, baring her soul across ten tracks that spin across a range of guitar-led moods; some rocky, some pitched closer to more accustomed singer-songwriter territory. In doing so she shares sensibilities with the likes of Waxahatchee, Courtney Barnett and Soccer Mommy.
“Fractures”, the final single from the debut album, explores how trying to live up to another who occupies a pedestal you can’t reach ends in a better kind of self-awareness. It is beautifully sung and wholly relatable. As the singer herself sum ups: "Fractures is about coming face to face with a version of yourself you don’t even recognise, growing into and understanding your true self and figuring out your own needs in life.”
Sometimes the situations you find yourself in can be difficult, but walking away from them is even tougher. Set in a 70s time warp, “Leaving” is a new offering with more than a touch of euphoria from impressive London 4-piece The Pylons. There’s a deceptively low key, almost bluesy opening, with background Barber Shop harmonies that gives way after a minute to an infectious tune that you feel you must have heard but can’t place. Overdriven riffs usher in a buzzing chorus that won’t leave your head in a hurry.
The deftly-shot accompanying video, filmed at Bobby Fitzpatrick, a cocktail bar and pizza place in West Hampstead with a 70s look and feel, fills in a story with a twist in its tail. “Leaving” displays a confident and defiant reaction to a difficult past; a positive anthem to soundtrack moving on with your life. I would also recommend you stop by and watch Vincent Relish's Days of Future Past, 25 minutes of mad spoof TV featuring the band that’s well worth your time.
42% of marriages in the UK end in divorce according to the most recently published stats. While the effects can spread out like ripples touching many lives, it’s the waves that pound the close family. The new single, “Family Therapy” by UK artiste Ella Janes speaks in a very personal way about the heartache of family break-up and the depth of emotional pain that can linger from childhood into adulthood.
“My father left home more than ten years ago and while life has of course moved on, there are still occasional days where I feel I could cry like a child when I think about the time we have missed together in the years since” said Ella. “It is this innocent, childlike part of myself that I wanted to capture, protect and cherish in the accompanying music video.” The emotion in her voice, sweet and softly wavering, is heartfelt but there is a different sense of moving on in these lyrics. The family you knew and loved will live on in your thoughts and memories, in old video footage and in your heart; therapy for moving on indeed.
I chose Ella as one of my three acts for Glastonbury’s Emerging Talent Longlist in 2013 and it’s great to be reacquainted with her music once again. Her debut album should be out later in the year.
While the past 12 days have been dominated by the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, peaceful protests and huge support for #BlackLivesMatter have emerged to oppose the dark stuff. Sometimes when there seems to be no hope, it surfaces in simple, positive declarations of common humanity. This week also saw the third anniversary of the One Love Manchester show held in the wake of the awful terrorist attack at Ariana Grande’s concert. At the time I wrote a piece about it which you’ll find here.
You may not get to that so I wanted to close this Friday Digest with an example in which music asserts itself as part of a healing process, touching the common bonds that bind us. The most powerful and memorable songs are created directly in the wake of an event. Here is “Beautiful Strangers” by Kevin Morby, written in memory of the victims of the Orlando nightclub shootings in 2016 and to support the Everytown for Gun Safety lobby: “If I die too young or if the gunmen come I’m full of love”.