Photo: Paul Husband

Elbow – “Kindling (Fickle Flame)” (Singles Going Steady)

A more serious and earnest delivery, you will not hear this year. iPhone torches out for the live rendition…

Ian Rushbury: The person who came up with the idea of pairing John Grant with Elbow deserves to have Friday afternoon off. “Kindling (Fickle Flame)” isn’t the most well-developed of tunes, but the vocal interplay between the two beard-wielding singers raises the song up several levels. It’s almost middle of the road and folky but manages to stay an inch away from Schmaltzville and a more serious and earnest delivery, you will not hear this year. iPhone torches out for the live rendition… [7/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: Together, Guy Garvey and John Grant make for a rich pairing, their voices naturally robust and clear. A warm, simple ballad that could be boring in the wrong hands, “Kindling (Fickle Flame)” ends up an arresting track worth sitting still and listening to for a while with this particular duet at the helm. Less is definitely more. [8/10]

John Garratt: Elbow manage to pin down the wide-open spaces guitar sound. The strings are a nice if inconsequential touch. John Grant and Guy Garvey sound pretty good together. None of this, however, distracts me from noticing just how boring the song is. [6/10]

Steve Horowitz: The two manly voices here blend well to create something of formal beauty. However, the martial cadences keep the pace slow. That can make the song seem a bit pompous. It’s the singers’ very ambitions that give the track its charm. They make a big noise. To dare to raise one’s voices in passion is an inherently important act, and they know it. [7/10]

Tristan Kneschke: The emotive UK band Elbow return with a bare, restrained duet, this time with American singer-songwriter John Grant, who sets aside his goofier lyrics for the collaboration. The result is a wistful, downtempo tune that nevertheless trudges along as if on loop, with a wash of sentimental strings midway providing the only other aural point of interest. Perhaps the restrained accompaniment serves to highlight the deeply-felt lyrics from both singers, but it’s difficult to become stirred by the performances when both singers are looking off lyric sheets. [4/10]

William Nesbitt: Never heard this track before. Never heard this band before. Never heard of this band before. What an introduction! A lot of lyrics don’t really stand up when they are read on the page stripped of instrumentation and heard only in the reader’s mind instead of the singer’s voice, but these words approach poetry. It’s exciting to think that this might not even be their best work. [7/10]

SCORE: 6.50