The Sad Song Co: Saudade

We Googled the title and it means “a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one cares for and/or loves … it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never be had again … the recollection of feelings, experiences, places, or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, and well-being, which now trigger the senses and make one experience the pain of separation from those joyous sensations … it acknowledges that to long for the past would detract from the excitement you feel towards the future.”
That long explanation kind of sums of Sad Song Co’s songs, which are as nuanced and thoughtful as that explanation, and about as like to be ever remembered.

The first album we heard from them was so good we bought another and while we do play them quite often, it’s not because we can remember any tunes, it’s that we know we enjoy them while they’re on: truly “the recollection of feelings, experiences, places, or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, and well-being”.

This subtlety is ironic because The Sad Song Co is multi-instrumentalist Nigel Powell, a man who made his living for some years hitting things loudly with sticks as drummer for Frank Turner. As far as we can tell, Turner never stops touring and Powell seems to have settled down with a partner, and left Turner’s band presumably because of the time spent away from home.

That first album of his we heard was In Amber, a collection of songs that reflected on old age, based on stories of people in an old people’s home. Powell is not your typical songwriter.

The title track of this opens gently with piano then some fairly clever, if subtle, drums, and synth. The piano reminded us of Twice, by Little Dragon. It’s an instrumental and the first vocals don’t come in until track two, whose cleverest lyric is also the title, These Tears Won’t Cry Themselves, a subtle blend of acoustic and electronic.

Next track, Hold, opens with a riffier blues sound but soon drops off into subtle; the holding is of the telephone. There’s more flowing piano with Hastings, Out Of Season.

While it’s all subtle, Powell isn’t a man who wants to play one instrument when three will suffice, so there’s always a lot going on.

At school he was in a band with future Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood and Andy Yorke, brother of Thom, and there’s something a bit Radiohead in places, though mostly it sounds like The Sad Song Co. Every time through is an immersive experience, it just leaves no memory of itself.

A good album, for fans of Radiohead, perhaps performers like Agnes Obel, or even Little Dragon on their first album.

Help the artist make a living. Buy from here.

About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

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