Album review: MY GLASS WORLD – Still Life With Machine Gun

Luxury Noise [release date: 24.09.21]

Everything Absent Or Distorted was a (now defunct) “sprawling, American, Indie Rock Ensemble”. They recorded their song ‘Still Life With Machine Gun’ in 2006.

15 years later, My Glass World have recorded their own song with the same title. So, apart from the obvious influence on them both by Vietnamese artist Ocean Vuong, where’s the similarity? The answer is that both are collectives. They have no fixed line up. A constant injection of new blood keeps the music fresh and fertile.

My Glass World’s core members are songwriter/ pianist/ performer Jamie Telford and his “accomplice”, Sean Reid…both are part time members of The Jam and Dexy’s Midnight Runners. The duo wrote and recorded the album by long distance communication during lockdown, enlisting the help of Stephen Gilchrist, Little Barrie and Jon Kensington, on drums, guitar and bass respectively.

Telford: “with Sean’s help, as a predominently solo piano player, having a great bunch of musicians around me meant I could utilise them all to create a bigger sound… collectives can be interesting”.

Nice understatement there.

It’s a move up from 2018′s Prisoner of Gravity, which we said was an album “of rare depth and quality”. As is Still Life With Machine Gun, only moreso. To depth has been added width.

Telford confesses to taking his lyrical inspiration from “the news and the ‘net”, and so his compositional skill begins with wry observations on life and living, from the personal to the universal, from vaccine passports to street philosophy.

There’s lots of improvised scat in among the vocal arrangements, pushed along by rubbery piano plinks and compact horn arrangements, themselves leaning more toward jazz than pop. ‘On The Ground’ gets the party started, ‘Step Right Up’ matches up funk-lite with rootsy rock’n'roll, sounding more like Costello or Lowe than the bands the duo are associated with, and ‘When Everything Closes’ is country music designed for the UK.

Having now exposed his undeniable songcraft to outside influences, Telford might just have found the right combination. ***1/2

Review by Brian McGowan

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