Pickering Pick - The Attic Tapes
When this album was recommended to me by its composer, I therefore approached with some trepidation for reasons already explained. Was this going to be something I would like or would I find it rather dull, in a worthy sort of way? Reading the reviews of this album did little to soothe such worries. Comparisons with Nick Drake and others seemed, if anything to confirm them. Nevertheless, I set about approaching the listening of The Attic Tapes with an open mind.
The opening track, the quiet instrumental "Buttercup Rag" did nothing to dispel the opinion I stated in the previous paragraph. Then came "Egypt." I stopped in my tracks. I sat down and tried to silence all other aural distractions and listened to it again, very carefully, word for word. Yes, it is true, it is as I thought the first time - outstanding. A personal description (though it cannot possibly be autobiographical) of a platonic relationship between an older man and a younger woman where the man wistfully wonders, well, if.... On a personal level, it is something I can relate to directly.
The album as a whole revolves around the theme of relationships. But do not be fooled by that statement for The Attic Tapes is not a concept album. The relationships described in the album can take many different forms. They can be platonic like "Egypt"; more than platonic like "Emily"; or the relationship between man and God like "Grace", another outstanding track. Sam is able to blend his personal experiences with observations into some compelling storytelling underpinned by simple tunes and clever imagery.
As with other Pickering Pick CD's I have downloaded, what strikes you first and foremost is the quality of the lyrics. Sam as a wordsmith is up there with the best. People here mention him in the same breath as Nick Drake. I will not disagree, but I feel his music stands comparison with anyone who picks up a guitar and sings. If reputations were built on the strength of one track, then this one, "Egypt", should have seen Sam get a Grammy (if those things have not been devalued over the years). If albums were sold on the strength of one track, The Attic Tapes would have gone double platinum.
Sam has done everyone on this site a favour by letting us share his music. In spite of the fact that I still hold this is not my type of music, I have found this to be more accessible than I had originally anticipated. It is some of the finest of its style I have come across. It is a privilege to be able to listen to it.
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