Any band would kill to be remembered for a song like 1987’s ‘Wonderful Life’ the hit that thrust Colin ‘Black’ Vearncombe onto the world’s psyche. His sonorous, deep croon uniquely melancholic and sorrowful. Twenty-eight years on he returns with new long-player ‘Blind Faith’; his first in six years and one funded through Pledgemusic.
‘The Love Show’ kicks off the foreplay with sweeping strings with jazzy, earthy vocals in a similar vein to The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon and Scott Walker. A rueful and regretful song that hints at what’s to come (ahem) ‘where love flows he may follow’. Mr Black ups the stakes with ‘Don’t Call Me Honey’ jaunty folk-pop with an electric wig-out guitar like Mark Knopfler fretting with Richard Hawley.
‘Good Liar’ goes for the jugular with, ‘I loved you, I’ve loved you from the start … I am alive when I’m in love’. However, who’s the liar here, is it Mr Black or his addressee? The music, all flowing, suggests he is the devious one in this instance. ‘Sleep Together’ has a riff like David Bowie’s ‘Rock and Roll Suicide’; with a Gallic flourish the song is a lament to the scent left behind, the lingering memories that absence provides.
‘Womanly Panther’ is a fruity chanson with another ‘Ooh la la’ feel. Who’s the cougar, prowling for prey? ‘Between the preacher and the plough, we’ve found our way to where we are’ the relationship between heaven and earth she is urged to ‘let loose, I need to be free, free to do what’s clear’. When you put it like that …
Standout ‘Ashes of Angels’ deploys romantic metaphors ‘stars … walk on rainbows’ before a stern rebuke of ‘Have you heard the one about me? It’s not funny!’ culminating in an abrupt ‘too much too late’ a clinical kiss-off to whomever.
The pleading and Beatlesish ‘When it’s Over’ is a defiant stand, yet there’s a futile inability to see what’s happening: ‘I’m not pretending … ending … I hear what my heart sings, it’s over, not over. It’s not over, it’s never over until it’s over’. Face it, it’s over, clinging on’s not gonna change anything. Closer ‘Parade’ is a trudging away, having turned around it is now the time to take stock and absorb everything that’s happened with your head held high, ‘all the birds are free to fly’.
Lyrically the album addresses the age-old concerns of affairs of the head, amour and soul, specifically the art of falling apart with a broken heart. Yearning, doubt and the passing of time and the onset of the unknown tangled up with memories. Wistfulness and regret are the order of the day as the narrative thread hints at the end of love, emotion in motion in a break-up confessional album joining the likes of Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan and Abba in a creative cath-art-ic outpouring. The word on the street is ‘Blind Faith is this year’s Black’.