5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Mature and graceful third album by the worlds greatest band,
This review is from: Peace At Last (Audio CD)
The Blue Niles third album came as a bit of a shock after the bruise blue opulence and full blooded romantic vistas of the glorious "Hats". It sounded way too cosy at first, a pipe and slippers album. And all those references to god and Jesus were, to an atheist like me, distinctly off putting. But with tremulous ease the album began to grow on me. Love of god is after all still a form of love (though of course it's often used to propagate hate and terror) and there is no band better at doing pure full bloom love than The Blue Nile. Plus of course the title "Peace At last " was alluding to some kind of settling down , a man coming to serene terms with himself and the people around him. After the brief but intense affairs of "Walk Across The Rooftops" and the lush full on romances Of "Hats", this album is the welcoming of the gradual inertia and domesticity and yes adulthood that true love brings to most of us. But rarely is it as beautiful and idyllic as The Blur Nile makes it seem.
Album opener "Happiness" has been used extensively by the Scottish Tourist Board which is not surprising since its memorable acoustic refrain and ear catching refrain endowing it with the air of a rallying call for some from of Shangri La which of course is what the S.T.B. wanted, though of course Paul Buchanan meant it on a more personal level. "Tomorrow Morning" driven by breezily strummed acoustic guitar and tells us that if you have love in your life everything will be just fine and dandy which is a mite simplistic but admirable none the less. "Sentimental Man" is a monumental number with a truly inspired Buchanan vocal, the walls of sound ricocheting of the beating of the singer's emotionally fraught heart. "Love Come Down "is more reflective and sanguine, Buchanan almost sombrely revelling in the moment of true love found.
Love dominates, which is the usual course of events with this special band but they never resort to sentimentality or glutinous platitudes and the celebratory "Body And Soul" encapsulates why. It never appears forced or synthetic; the songs mood of revelling in the pure joy of being with someone else is as natural as breathing and comes across that way. "Holy Love" though is perhaps a step too far, but again it's so unflinchingly sincere it would seem churlish to criticise and the song is undoubtedly lovely. "Family Life" though is something else. The most affecting and moving tribute to the pleasures that enjoying your own progeny brings I have ever heard with lines like "We will raise the children and hold them to the sky", it simply and proficiently makes it sound like the most wonderful thing in the world, which often it is of course.. Fifteen years ago I would have snorted mucus at this song, now I think it is one of the most gloriously honourable paeans to love I have ever heard.
The album cannot top this though "War Is Love" and "God Bless You Kid" is wonderfully arranged, once again sung with heart melting brio by the ever reliable Paul Buchanan. "Soon" is a hushed atmospheric hymn to the ever escalating bond with your children as time passes and aurally harks back to the bands former work more than anything else on this album.
"Peace At Last" isn't up with The Blue Niles previous albums but they are very special albums indeed, indeed "Hats" remains my favourite album ever, but it is by any standards a great album. Most impressively it tackles a subject - domesticity and settling down - that would bring most bands out in cold sweats and it does so without resorting to cliché or miring the listener in oleaginous schmaltz. They are a band, content it would seem to grace the margins of the music industry and though their next album "High" was their first less than perfect release I look forward to their next with salivating anticipation. If it's as good as "Peace At Last" I won't be complaining and I doubt anyone else will either.