Bandcamp [Release date 20.03.20]
Some music transcends its place and time and becomes truly a work of art for the ages. Pavey Ark’s ‘Close Your Eyes and Think of Nothing’ has joined that elite club and is truly one of the most achingly beautiful and perfect albums you’ll ever hear. Perfect indeed for listening to on these days as Spring languidly makes its way to Summer, this is a record that will instantly transport you to sunnier climes, no matter the season or place and stands to be a classic, much loved by all who hear it.
The Hull based band describe themselves as ‘folk’ and certainly there are elements, especially in the instrumentation, that points to this but there is so much more, filled as it is with the richness of some of the classic singer songwriters.
Over the space of eleven tracks you’re drawn into their world, as it envelops you in the warmth of a campfire and the freshest of dew-covered dawns. As soon as the gentle acoustic guitar of ‘Wallflower’ starts you are magically spirited away to a land of beaches in hidden coves and single malt whiskies in dark, cosy pubs, the other instrumentation drifting like fine gossamer, until it makes you ache with its incandescent beauty.
Eschewing images of traditional folk music, this is something that has all its exquisite touches but with none of the cliched tropes that people outside the genre seem to often perceive of it. For Pavey Ark, the songwriting is the thing and they do that on a scale that can be at once universal and then painfully intimate, raw nerves exposed but never maudlin, with joy and hope leaking from the seams.
‘Cuckoo’ is earthy, yet heavenly, sparkling with little moments that are like fireworks to the synapses, its keening guitar solo like the cry of a gull as the violin brushes in and around it. Similarly, when faced with the titular ‘Close Your Eyes and Think of Nothing’ you can do nothing but surrender to its silken caress and let it wash over you, wandering further and further into its magical depths. The album takes you on a journey throughout, ‘Leaf by Leaf’ turns into ‘Two Blue Lines’, each a stroll through an orchard full of Spring flowers where yellows, greens, whites, blues and reds dance through your mind.
You can imagine the cries of ‘’Judas!’’ that Bob Dylan had to suffer when the electric guitar of ‘Hidden Hills’ makes its stark introduction but it adds more of a modern sheen to the gloriously rural patina of the song.
There is something otherworldly about the track, conjuring something lost and just out of reach but this just adds to the palette of colours used to build up the album, rather than just a wash of bright hues that could have rendered it bland.
You can almost smell the salt and seaweed as ‘Lost in Blue’ washes on the shore, white foam stretching out over the sand and ‘She’s Already Flown’ dances like fireflies in the evening sky, it’s killing line ‘’You’re the full stop in a dull plot’’ stinging deeply.
By the closing, gorgeous, hat trick of songs ‘Breaking Out’, ‘Jenny Let Go’ and ‘Consider Your Hand’ any last shreds of resistance have been gently unpicked and discarded as you willingly surrender to its siren call.
With some stunning cover art and an audiophile seducing limited clear vinyl edition available amongst the usual formats of CD and download, this is an investment for the future and something that shouldn’t stray far from the front of any collection.
An album to take into your heart, this will be something that will always stay with you, long after those glorious Summer days have faded. A modern classic, ‘Close Your Eyes and Think of Nothing’ is beyond sublime. *****
Review by Paul Monkhouse
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 12 September 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at www.getreadytorock.com for that week.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020 and 2021 Finalist) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 14 September 2021.
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