I'm trying to come to terms with the type of albums that are topping my end of year list. The last couple of years have seen me plumb for the obvious when picking my albums of the year: Both the Arcade Fire and Fleet Foxes albums were popular with critics and public and - in my view - successfully dealt with the terror that mid-life can bring. Maybe my attitude has changed but the deep, darkness that lies in the heart of this and some of the other singer/songwriter albums near the top of my 2012 list offer very little in the way of cheery relief. More like a certain brutal honesty in simple settings.
In search of sounds at the opening of the year I checked Twitter for any mention of Songs of Green Pheasant - it was 5 years since `Ghylling Street' the pure atmospheric beauty of Duncan Sumptner's 3rd album, sound tracking the journey into Scotland's highlands perfectly (though it's theme was the time he spent in Falmouth as a student.) - to my surprise one of the first tweets was someone excited at the news of a new album.
`Soft Wounds', like Paul Buchanan's `Mid Air' and Gravenhurst's 'The Ghost In Daylight' isn't just an album. This is a fully formed expression of an artist - packaged in card with a lyric sheet emblazed with Sumptner's dark art (he's a secondary school art teacher by day), songs that resonate with lyrical themes...endless drawings of figure eights...kids dying of boredom...looking down on houses and trees, like an old war pilot. And it's all wrapped in the most beautiful melancholic melodies you'll find this side of Bark Psychosis' `Hex'. Yeah it's short and there's a couple of basic instrumentals that don't do anything other than frame the more epic portraits here, but that's the point of them. The cold early months of 2012 were taken up by this beautiful testament to people lost too soon, lives wasted and time passing without passion. Let it do the same for you in 2013?