The Slow Show – Brother EP

It always pleases me when artists I abuse the virtual hell out of online, actually bring out a real hard-copy-something I can own and play for real throughout the rest of my life. Following on from their fantastic performance at the Ruby Lounge, I have myspaced The Slow Show to within an inch of their dust-bowl life.

Image © Anne Louise Kershaw

Despite being driven by up-tempo, indie-type stuff (preferably electro based, because in my head I am an 80’s, false eyelash wearing, robot), I am currently consumed by all that is darkly filmic and soulful. Last Harbour, Ren Harvieu and The Slow Show have joyously – or actually quite lamentingly ­­– sung me into early spring. I would really love to see a gig of all three together in fact.

Fortunately I own Last Harbour’s newly released Your heart, it carries the sound, fantastic it is too. This means they are loaded into my iPod and can soundtrack me on the go. Ren remains on virtual loop (until her album release in April) as did The Slow Show until I received a real hard copy of their Brother EP through the post.

Beginning with God Only Knows, the EP welcomes you with the beautiful northern brass horns that I remember so fondly from the gig. It quickly opens out into a more expansive swing with sweeping drums and a lightly twangy, country-esque guitar before the delightful syrup-sponge vocal tones of Rob Goodwin. He drawls you through a tale of change and uncertainty, over such whisperingly repetitious horns, that you are soon swayed into a state of summer-hazed sleepiness.

The title track Brother, wakes you up from your lazy lay with a sharp, echoing, piano intro that sounds as though it is playing from down the corridor of a large and empty house. This is a more romantically sorrowful affair, heavily aided by the beautiful use of Adrianne Wininsky on Cello and a larger use of musical space, particularly in the first half of the song. The second half lifts into something slightly less introspective, but equally reflective. Lyrics move on from “You’re to young to leave me brother” to the sharply emotive “Oh brother, you’re just another story” as it musically swells into an almost dirge-like impact, before imploding into a whispery nostalgic conclusion.

Dirty Little Secret seems at first to be a lighter, less melancholy, track with elegant cello and simple piano over a straight but effective beat. However, despite the increased heartbeat pace, we soon return to themes of uncertainty; this time of a man and his “dirty little secret”, as sang with understated haunting by Zoe Chiotis behind Goodwin’s appeals of being on “that slippery slope”. They then vocally join forces as lovers who battle it out with the lines “another late night, another drunken fight, another lover’s poor and desperate call for redemption”. Another musically bitter pill you aurally and indulgently swallow.

We have more of Zoe’s delicate backing on closing track Goodbye Rose. This gently eases you back into yourself with even more musical space than was used in the earlier parts of Brother. Here, Chiotis’s backing is even lighter and more airy in contrast to Goodwin’s vocal crawl, which he delivers with an even heavier laze as he suitably sings “And so, now it’s all gone, goodbye”.

Moving on from spring, the Brother EP cover certainly has more than a touch of summer to it. It pictures a young boy, holding his nose, mid icy-splash in a lake. However, this being The Slow Show, the lively scene is washed over in subtly dark, green-grey hues. It is an image of both summer and shadow, visually and emotionally. It perfectly suits the EP, which is, at all times, looking forward with a nostalgically strong heartstring attached to the past. The four beautifully balanced tracks, recorded and mixed by Keyboardist Fredrik Kindt at Blueprint Studios Manchester, demonstrate a confident use of musical space that gives full respect to the instrumentally considerate composition.

Again I am left eager for their next show. Fortunately, for an over-obsessive like myself, I do not have to wait long. They are playing at the fantastic Castle Hotel in Manchester on April 3rd (I adore that pub, they do the most fantastic dark Rum and Coke with a big wedge of lime). I, for one, will be attending, with suitably rueful bells on and a gloriously ‘woe is me’ look on my face.

See the Slow Show’s brand new video here:

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