One of the things we have learnt in 2020 is how much we value the small things in life; the intimacy of just being with someone, creating memories, feeling love, feeling at home. Although we may have valued those things before, it’s taken a global pandemic for us to realise as a society that these so called small things are in fact, the big things in life and we don’t take them for granted anymore. Many, many millions of words have been written about how we feel about these things and, no doubt, more than a few songs will emerge too, but to my mind, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald’s new album, Love Valley, explores these feelings with wonderful depth and warmth.
The album is a joyous exploration into a warm and intricate depiction of a place that exists somewhere for all of us, where we are most happy and at home. For Michael, it’s Love Valley. Michael has created a lo-fi sound that surrounds the listener with guitars and vocals that bring us the sounds of contentment. Organic percussion is accompanied by touches of saxophone and cinematic backdrops and flourishes of sax which comfortably fits with Michael’s relaxed voice and storytelling lyrics.
The outstanding track is ‘I Love That Sound‘, the first of two songs, the other being ‘Nothing On‘ that details the intimate moments between a couple when it’s just the two of them. Although the lyrics in the former tell of the sound of a dress sliding off a loved one’s body and landing on the ground and the latter is similarly intimate, we never feel like we’re eavesdropping on a private moment – Michael draws us in so we are included, never voyeuristic. It could be our story and we feel happy about it. One of the most effective moments is the drop before the drums enter, it’s just a lovely song.
‘I Love You‘ is another gem of a song that celebrates all the times when a loved one is wonderful, which according to this song, is all the times during the day that are not normally special – hanging out the washing, getting muddy in the garden for example. “If you’re wondering, I love you, I love you, I love you” are lines repeated throughout the song. It might be one of the best love songs I’ve heard for a long time.
Love Valley is a very cohesive sounding album, with an intimacy created by the lo-fi production sounds, although there are a couple of more toe tapping tracks as well. ‘Good Plates‘ has a bluegrasssy intro that quickly settles into telling the story of getting the ‘good plates’ out for a dinner involving family and friends. As with the rest of the songs, it’s infused with love and warmth. If you’re looking for a collection of tracks that will keep you warm this winter and beyond, Love Valley could well be the one.
Michael’s advice for aspiring musicians is all about those small moments:
“Get comfortable with the uncomfortable – so many moments change on stage or in the studio, creating music or performing. Often I find the best stuff lies in just going with the flow in those moments, being comfortable with those changes before they happen to allow for the song or show to flow seamlessly.”
Love Valley was released on 9 October on Treasure Island Recs. Get your copy here.
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