After what seemed a lifetime of endeavour, high quality endeavour it must be pointed out, Manchester’s I Am Kloot finally registered on the UK’s national consciousness when their fifth album Sky at Night received critical acclaim and ended up being shortlisted for the Mercury Music Award, this almost ten years after the release of their debut album Natural History. I’ve been hooked on I Am Kloot ever since that first album and I found it somewhat ironic, that, in my eyes, success had come relatively late for Johnny Bramwell and gang and with arguably their weakest album.
It should be pointed out here that I Am Kloot’s weakest album would feature as a career highlight for most bands in the acoustic-folk-indie world they inhabit.
Bramwell, for all intents and purposes the leader of the group, has a warm, inviting voice. It doesn’t tend to change much in tone or pitch but it is one of those voices that is instantly recognizable and never seems strained, comfortable in its own skin. Allied to this is the fact that Bramwell is a wonderful storyteller, tales of lives loved and lost, of hope and despair he has a sharp realists eye of the trials and tribulations of the predominately northern working class lives he chronicles. He belongs to the lineage of writers such as Alan Sillitoe, Shelagh Delaney and John Osborne, renowned in British cultural terms for the ‘Kitchen Sink’ realism their plays and scripts ushered in, and there is no doubt Bramwell would be equally at home in the world of drama and film as a writer of such tales.
So it is always a good day when I Am Kloot release a new album and it is no different with Let It All In. With long term supporter of the band and fellow northern realist Guy Garvey of Elbow, back in the producer’s seat (Garvey produced Sky at Night) the album opens with “Bullets” and a classic Kloot line “I kept the note you never wrote / And put it with the rest I haven’t got” with the familiar deep bass carrying the same tune as the brilliant “Twist” from debut Natural History. Ten years on and still Johnny can’t nail down that relationship.
There is a resigned weariness to “Let Them All In” while “Hold Back the Night” sees a more plaintive vocal, accompanied by a slow jazzy drum beat and piano before the strings burst through, offering a ray of light and optimism for the future.
“Mouth on Me” seems to be an autobiographical tale of getting older and wiser before “Shoeless” offers up an other gem in the Kloot canon. A brisk, jaunty, upbeat track, this has summer sun kissed all over it and makes you yearn for those long warm days, walking hand in hand with your loved one. “Shoeless” complements “Masquerade”, a short, thick fuzzy bass, Beatles-esque song.
Overall, there is a return to the less expansive sound of early I Am Kloot without the grand strings and orchestral swoops of “Sky at Night”, the trio tight but relaxed with Bramwell’s voice pushed to the fore and the songs sounding better for it.
Having said that, “These Days Are Mine”, the penultimate song on the album, deserves a special mention. Full of squally, psychedelic like guitars, and staccato violins, the song is huge. If the Verve or Oasis had recorded this it would have been played to death. A seriously fantastic song and highlight on an album that re-affirms that I Am Kloot and Bramwell in particular, have lost none of their ability to create beautiful music.
Let’s hope they don’t have to wait so long this time for everyone else to catch onto these irrepressible northern dramatists.
- "Some Better Day" Artist site
// Notes from the Road
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