Monday, 14 September 2009

Talons’ – Songs For Babes [MIE]

Sea Gulls and piano usher in Songs For Babes the solo project of Mike Talon from the wonderful Trouble Books. This is a more straightforward song based project compared to the home made found sound lo-fi pop of Trouble Books, it also sounds a lot more personal in fact these tracks are all to do with specific moments in Talons’ life, it’s a musical looking glass into one mans life. Yet he manages to make these personal themes into stories the listener can relate to. He really has a skill for weaving stories his writing style has this wonderful low-key intimate literary feel to them where he brings the emotion and drama out of normal everyday situations. This is helped beautifully by the nature of his sound, which involves playing with found sounds and traditional instrumentation to create a mixture of ambient drones, twinkles of playful electronics and an almost traditional indie or almost folk like sound.

Every track on Songs For Babes is named after a girl but they rarely veer into the traps hip-hop does, in fact it doesn’t happen at all not one of these songs are about booty its just not that kind of album. ‘Natalie’ is short and sweet, I mean the song I don’t know the girl… just piano and the sea, before the melodic acoustic guitar of ‘Maddy’ with subtle accents of sound one of which being a siren, the vocals are so subtle and understated, which gives the words ‘I’ll wait for you’ a real melancholic feel. Tape hiss ushers in the next track, ‘Erin’ along with some kind of drum machine that shuffles along under building shimmering guitar, warm synth sounds and double tracked vocals to great effect.

The songs are so linear and story-like instead of the traditional verse/chorus structures it’s kind of refreshing, he writes what he needs to write then moves along and if that means some tracks only reach just over a minuet then so be it. The mellow ‘Angela’ sounds like an ode to a one night stand, like a lo-fi indie D’Angelo the words, ‘sleeping with my hand round your waste, and I don’t even no your last name, I bury my face in the back of your long hair…’ are sung with such beauty that it really echoes the moment that’s both so intimate and full of a nervous curiosity that you’ve ended up in bed with someone you don’t know the second name of.

Rain and footsteps pitter-patter behind gentle acoustic melodies on the instrumental, ‘Rachel’ with chimes and keys. The way he uses found sounds and field recordings is just brilliant it was always something I enjoyed with the Trouble Books stuff. ‘Mich’ is no exception as more rain and a motorbike open it up before subtle accordion, guitar and lyrics about really wanting to go and give someone special a lift because its raining, then the door slams and he’s gone… The epic centre piece ‘Juice’ clocking in at about five minuets about walking in the autumn with someone close, the lyrics ‘the birds are singing you said its natures ring tone’ standout while a beautiful looped and tweaked toy box twinkle accents the low-key guitar melodies that get stretched into wonderful tones that drone and shift into a gently moving bed of sound.

‘Sam’ is a mad track that starts with cymbals and small feedback loops while talking about watching castaway and not giving a shit, bored somewhere at work. Then going home and talking about paying bills before we get a smidgen of hope with the phrase ‘I hope she wins the lottery’ before all hell breaks loose in a toy box electro ride of wonder, like the gleeful end sequence to an old computer game. We are soon into a world of sadness again on ‘Taz’ about a girl brining up some children when they’ve been thrown out of their house, the finale of the track with subtle group vocals is kind of cool though despite the message. The folky plucks of ‘Cole’, which is a track about leaving a job but you’ve not told the people you work with yet and you’re at a party with them, is another subject you don’t hear much of but works surprisingly well. The subtle tones of ‘Lula’ with its busy crackle low in the mix and floaty free flowing melodies takes you into the final track, ‘Sommer’ with the playful opening of ‘maybe we could build a fort’ its probably the most jaunty of tracks and finishes things well.

The Bark and Hiss / MIE axis of sound has struck low-key gold again in this very personal album Songs For Babes, Talons’ has created a snapshot of his life full of mini stories and moments to share with us and it comes off really well without you ever feeling like your intruding. The lyrics are subtle and just try and find a bit of beauty and humour in everyday things instead of being over bearing, personal and emotional, which can be a worry when you get a solo very much acoustic indie record. Talons’ steers away from all that though and is all the better for it. This is an album you can really enjoy for its relaxing atmosphere and really open nature, you can relate to the small dramas that unfold with every listen or just sink into the mesmerising yet simple instrumentation, wonderful.

1 comment:

Dan said...

Great find, i really like the songs i've heard so far, especially Sommer.

Thanks for that.

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