Pickering Pick - Prayer Flag
Indeed, if an album has the ability to conjure up in sound the object in its title, then I would have to say that Prayer Flag comes close. The production seems somehow different - a bit more echo perhaps - or a recording in a slightly different setting. The feel is more open and clear. No it probably wasn't recorded outside but it sounds almost as if it could have been.
Sam's voice is at its finest for some time on this album. Anyone who has listened to much of his work will know that the greatest feature of any Pickering Pick track is his delicate voice and the well-crafted lyrics he sings. These are all songs of a variety of emotional states in which all of us have probably been in at one time or another. And therein lies the beauty of it. These are not songs in the abstract, but rooted in the realities of every day life. We may not all have experienced all the emotions, but we can certainly empathise with anyone who has, especially when they are presented in the unadorned way Sam delivers his music. Emotions may be worn on a sleeve or deeply but quietly felt. Without wishing to sound melodramatic, it is the contrast between the emotions shown at a Shia Muslim funeral and those of a Buddhist funeral: the former is loud and open and full of anguish; the latter is restrained and personal, but none the less deeply mourned because of it. Pickering Pick would feel a closer affinity with the latter.
But Prayer Flag is not a mournful album. "Morningside" is a song of hope. "Spinnaker" seems a familiar melody (is it similar to one I have heard from Pickering Pick before?) and resonates with a sense of parting or remembering. Yet each song carries withit as much a feeling of recalling something, as it does of looking forward, with hope, to new beginnings. "Everything Is Better" seems to encapsulate this with its recollections seemingly providing a motivation for seeking new horizons, symbolised by the springtime and the soon-to-bud plants of the song.
The album's best song, "Shame" begins with something which if it is not already an axiom it should be -
"There's a time for the truth/And a time for just letting it go."
These words, and those that follow all about the choices which we make in our lives, flow smoothly over an acoustic guitar which reminded me of a train rattling over rails and sleepers. Any maybe that is the point of it, for these are the sort of feelings one can imagine experiencing as one takes the train away from something familiar, and yet forever changed, into a new beginning.
If you haven't experienced a Pickering Pick album yet, then I suggest you seek to correct that oversight as soon as possible. English origin and American residency have given Sam Pickering Pick an ability bridge the gap of the Atlantic which separates the two sources of his experience in a way which no other similar artist has managed. The music is equally at home in the Forest of Dean in Sam's native Gloucestershire as it is in the Redwood forests of his adopted California.
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