While being a founding member of the Victorian influenced Bronnt Industries Kapital, it would appear Nick Talbot's main project Gravenhurst is a vehicle for his most conventional songs. But the subject matter on "The Western Lands" is anything but orthodox, incorporating not so everyday issues such as romantic suicide, solace, magic and confusing people with places (whatever that may mean).
But in fairness, it is Gravenhurst's unassuming style that is most pleasing here. The music doesn't impose itself on you, instead gently burrows itself into your subconscious. Featuring an eclectic range of textures, "Song Among The Pine" is a lovely, cascading folk paean, while "She Dances" is an angular indie-rock tribute, with Thurston Moore inspired guitar experimentation, to the late Fairport Convention vocalist Sandy Denny.
At times Gravenhurst represents a similar vision to that of Creation Records' heyday, not Oasis and Britpop, but shoegaze trendsetters Ride and My Bloody Valentine. "Farewell, Farewell" especially, is literally soaking in Kevin Shields style production or `screaming fields of sonic love' as Talbot calls it.
However, it is the ethereal beauty of songs such as the album's instrumental title track, the optimistic "Saints" and the heartfelt "Hourglass" that really registers here. All three songs display a talent that, at times, is a joy to behold. Augmented by a full backing band, Talbot seems to be reveling in this setting and is clearly amongst the most gifted songwriters in the UK right now.