Tuesday 20th April: There are few guitar-playing singer-songwriters that I feel the need to see perform live again after seeing them for the first time. Nor are there many whose songs instantly burrow into my subconscious after hearing them just once. Daniel Lucas/GT Turbo is one of the few, certainly in recent times, and I can’t help but wish that his gigs and my free time lined up a bit better. On that basis, I didn’t hesitate to pre-order The Ship That Sailed, debut album from Boss Caine, the York-based music collective formed around Daniel’s songs.
Apparently, the songs on the album were all written over the last few years – this is no “let’s write an album” endeavour – during which both the bright lights of London tempted him down South and the lure of his hometown saw him return. And, it seems, those bright lights may have led to more dark times than was to be expected. Indeed, the jauntiness of opener Keep The Homefires Burning belies the sombre mood of the rest of the album which is filled with sad and touching lyrics.
It’s not all darkness and depression. The lightness returns, albeit less evidently during Sha La La and there is a degree of hope that love can endure in Santiago. But Daniel draws on lost loves and painful times to produce some memorable and, while sad, never depressing songs. The highs and lows of of his times in London are evident in my personal favourite, Leaving Victoria (which has nothing to do with a woman) and the city also provides backdrops for Cambden Town (a song which goes to a truly dark place when referencing vodka and sleeping pills) and, briefly, Small World. The pain of a relationship that never seems to end is evident in Never Really Gone, while a similar sentiment comes immediately after in Man Overboard.
Sing For Your Sins, the longest song on the album at over seven minutes, also has the fullest sound, with the most obvious percussion and electric guitars. The lyrics for this one paint a picture of a relationship gone sour but not yet ended, while the music builds to a stunning crescendo before falling away to a beautiful ending. One of my few criticisms of the album is that, perhaps, this song outstays its welcome a little lyrically, with the chorus repeated too many times towards the end for my liking. Having said that, it’s another of my favourites.
For such an outwardly simple album, it turns out to be incredibly multi-layered, in more ways than one. While I have focused on Daniel’s writing talents (and have yet to mention his rich, deep singing voice) the album wouldn’t be the same without Boss Caine core members (and producers) Andy Gaines and Sam Forrest and the many guests, all of whom have played in the “band” at some time. I would particularly like to draw attention to Hayley Hutchinson’s ethereal backing vocals during This Is Your Life and Rebecca Lowman’s cello, which adds a great deal of depth to the sound of Bring Back My Baby.
More evidence of multi-layering (although, I admit, this may only be in my own interpretation) comes with the title track – obstensibly about Daniel’s desire but inability to visit Nashville, and how he builds a boat with sails made from “all the letters you sent me”. The more I hear it, the more I think the boat is a metaphor for something and the rain which blurs the letters are actually the tears cried while reading them. Maybe it’s me reading too much into it.
Fourteen songs, the first of a projected three albums and, while not the style I would normally buy, an beautifully crafted album that keeps finding its way back into my CD player. Powerful, raw, emotional, simple (and, paradoxically, complex), superb and highly recommended.
1: Keep The Homefires Burning
2: Bring Back My Baby
4: Never Really Gone
5: Mon Overboard
6: Cambden Town
7: Sing For Your Sins
8: Sweet Sorrow Surrender
10: This Is Your Life
11: Sha La La
12: The Ship That Sailed
13: Leaving Victoria
14: Small World
Daniel Lucas – Vocals, guitars
Sam Forrest – Bass, percussion, harmonica, piano, vocals
Andy Gaines – Guitar, banjo, piano, mandolin, accordion, percussion, vocals
Mike Newsham – Mandolin, guitar
Adam Rogowski – Guitars
Rebecca Lowman – Cello
Hayley Hutchinson – Vocals
Vinny North – Harmonica
Jack Holdstock – Drums