on 8 March 2007
I received a mySpace request from Marc Pilley a few weeks ago and decided to check him out. After listening to a few tracks I came to Amazon and bought this, his most recent album. All lyrics and music are written by Pilley.
There's no doubt he's a very talented man. This album is the epitome of easy listening. The lyrics can be simple, yet intelligent at times and the same goes for the music. Hobotalk haven't really done anything new with this album, but there's little to fault them on either as the songs they've created are very good. At times I felt like I was reminded of Badly Drawn Boy, but a better, more consistent version with the album having a nice easy flow to it. If you could judge an album by it's album cover then this would be a perfect example. The scenario that's depicted on the cover is one of travelling on a train with the sun setting on a warm day somewhere in America, with you relaxed on board; and relaxed is what you feel listening to this.
Highlights from the album have to be Little Light, Half Your Life Away, Who Are You Now & On The Edge Of Nowhere.
on 1 February 2006
For this incarnation of his band Hobotalk Marc Pilley has recruited different players to his previous album in the form of Ali Petrie keyboards, backing vocals and bass, Nick Houldsworth electric guitar, harmonica, mandolin and backing vocals with Alan Cranston playing percussion.
The opener “Little light” (4.00) starts with Marc stroking the acoustic, singing the opening line “little light stay part of me” the acoustic builds to the sound of a high hat, then a piano is heard playing the same theme as the guitar, the snare is quietly played so as not to drown the other instruments but give a sense of rhythm to the pleading chorus of “help me be a better man”.
During the track an electric guitar is used sparingly to accentuate the lyrics such as “Little light” and “don’t let go”.
The use of three part harmony during the repeated phrase “help me be a better man” during the fadeout makes this the perfect opening and sets the tone.
“Half your Life away” (3.26) this starts with a acoustic, the words begin with “Heaven keep you safe” after the first line another acoustic joins the first to make a blend of guitars, followed by the backing vocals of Petrie and Houldsworth during the chorus and nothing more.
“Letter from a Friend” (4.00) the snare plays a 1-2-3 beat then a honky tonk sounding piano plays the main theme this then allows Marc to deliver an anti-war song that has a little anger to it than the usual confessional style.
For this song Marc asks the listener not leave him on his own and also asks the question “is America dying”, as the track fades the following track blends into the fadeout.
“In the Arms of love” (3.14) a slowly played piano plays, the volume of the keys builds to the opening line of “give to me one, more day, in the hours we used to be, in the arms of love again” and on the word again a mandolin can be heard giving the word potency.
“Book of Life” (3.40) the piano is played in a cascading manner then joined by an acoustic and bass, these instruments are all playing the same tune, to add a backbone for all to play against the sound of gentle percussion can be heard.
The lyrics start with “think you’re the only one”, this is a gentle sounding piece that ends with the lines “think you’re the only one” then a repetition of the main theme on the fade out.
“Give your Heart” (2.34) with a strum on the acoustic and then a run on the piano, it also has playing along side a snare giving the other parts timing and structure.
This is repeated 3 times before the first words are sung, “Pray hard for the sunshine, walk tall in your rain, give your heart to someone, watch it start again, walk on through the city, with it’s cold cold heart, give your love to someone, you can make a start”, after the opening line the music goes back to the intro, this is done on every line of the song until the bridge then there is a retro sounding guitar used the song then repeats the first lines.
“Headstones” (2.29) acoustic plays along with the piano both in a minor key which gives the opening line of “Apples grow green in this graveyard, weeping their leaves on this stone, how does it feel that awful morning knowing that someone’s gone? She brings out her flowers every Tuesday, to lay them down at the stone, how did she feel was she ready? Knowing her someone’s gone” a real sense of melancholy and loneliness.
The beginning of the track is repeated with an added chorus giving this already dramatic sounding track more potency.
After this middle 8 section Marc sings “I give up some days just to be there, my seasons delayed in her thoughts, clouds gather like ghosts on these mornings, knowing that her someone’s lost”, the first line is then repeated but this time with a alteration to the lyrics “Apples grow green is this graveyard, memories unfold at it’s stone, life became rich in the knowledge, someday we’re all be gone” at that the song ends.
“Me & my Mountain” (4.45) this begins in a similar manner to the previous song with acoustic and piano which are played with a great deal of delicacy, this sets the tone for the opening line of “Me and my Mum, we’re gonna war again”.
“Life amongst these Graves” (3.43) Marc pulls on his acoustic then delivers the line “Words to the left, words to the right, so many words I can’t decide”, with the end of that line another guitar begins slighter higher up the scale to give the sound a brighter feel along with extra percussion to the chorus of “Bring me life amongst these graves” an ironic up beat sound.
“Who are you now” (3.27) this starts with Marc singing “Who are you now with your love gone?” this forlorn love song is full of sadness in an already emotionally draining album a real tearjerker, the use of harmonica towards the end of the track gives the song a real bluesy feel.
“On the edge of nowhere” (4.41) the closing track begins with a counted in intro 3,4 then a honky tonk sounding piano with Marc telling us “ No more to give, a little left too borrow, there’s no silver linings and no dreamer tomorrow, I’ve hawked all my yesterdays just to buy me a day, now I’m still here on the edge of nowhere” the lines are repeated as more instruments are added,
“On the edge of nowhere” is repeated until the fadeout.
The 5-year wait was worth it, this second album shows with it’s stripped back sound Marc’s voice is the real deal, an excellent album for late night listening for when you are alone in the dark.