Liverpool / Cheshire collective El Misti, headed by Paddy Bleakley and Kieran Gilchrist, release their second album, ‘All Is Lost’ next week. Ostensibly falling under the Americana label, the album starts off at the country end of that umbrella before progressing through to a purer Americana sound, calling in on blues and indie along the way.
Leading us off, ‘Ain’t That Just Like Me‘ is a toe tapping track with a jaunty melody, distinctly at odds with lyrics full of woe. It’s a classic sounding country song with influences of Willie Nelson – and it’s very catchy. The theme of woe continues into ‘Bargain at the Gates‘, before my favourite track, ‘Couldn’t God Damn Someone Else‘ brings on just a bit more darkness. The more up tempo rhythm belies the “darkness clouding my brain” found throughout the track – the violin adds exactly the right sense of angst that permeates the album as whole. Another catchy chorus, this track details the feeling that just sometimes, we’ve had enough and shouldn’t it be someone else’s turn now.
For danceability, you can’t go wrong with ‘Broken Blues‘ the nearest thing to a love song on All Is Lost, although being the album it is, there’s more heartbreak involved than joy. We journey through one man’s perspective on love, from “you are the spring in my step” to “you can treat me as a lesson you had to learn”. In other words, it will go wrong, so I’m just preparing myself for it now.
The album then moves from personal pain and misery to an interesting look at the world today, in particular the politics of the world we find ourselves in, the world that has (mostly) elected itself to the current situation. Whatever your views on where we are in 2021, El Misti make it pretty clear that we are “sleep walking into fascism with a second glance”, and “silence is your betrayal” in ‘What’s Your Favourite War?‘, although ‘This is a Godless Place‘ started us off on this exploration of recent and current politics. The last two tracks, ‘Don’t You Love Democracy‘ and ‘All is Lost and Hope is Gone‘ delve deeper into the perils of modern democracy and how far the world continues down the path described here.
This album is a doom laden collection of songs that dares to look under the skin of modern society, unflinchingly chronicling what is often hidden beneath. Is there hope – who knows? But we’ll hopefully find out in a third album.
Singer and songwriter Paddy’s advice for aspiring musicians is all about what happens before the music:
“Turn off the TV, put down your device, get out in the world and experience things. Study your surroundings. Listen to people. Don’t be led by others, think for yourself. Read as much as you can as it helps train the brain to retain knowledge and formulate sentences. Most importantly be true and express yourself. There are no wrong answers, just different conclusions.”
All Is Lost is released on 26 July.
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