When David Longdon died suddenly and unexpectedly from a fall last year, the world of music was deeply saddened. His loss, especially as he was gaining respect and stature as a fine frontman, singer, multi-instrumentalist, lyricist and visionary part of Big Big Train, was both unexpected and shocking. David had also finally, after many years, begun to gain both widespread acclaim and respect, furthermore he had found satisfaction in his life with partner Sarah Ewing. His legacy thankfully remains with this album that was 90% complete at that time having now been completed by his friends as a tribute to a good man, a Brave Captain, to coin one of his songs.
This album is different because of his passing but it is still a good listen, even if it is painful, for what has gone and for what could have been in his future. Thankfully, Big Big Train have chosen to continue, albeit in a different configuration and one that pays tribute to their deeply missed colleague.
The album is not actually very long in duration but it has flashes of brilliance and will need several plays to really understand, which is fitting really. It opens with Into The Icehouse, an instrumental, ambient piece of birdsong and minimal piano tones playing almost a lament. Watch It Burn is rather upbeat and urgent with an almost indie sound to it, all jangly guitar lines which lead into a memorable chorus. This is a fine second track and it is a joy to hear David’s voice as he swoops and soars in a familiar manner, the song is certainly stirring with some great guitar.
There’s No Ghost Like An Old Ghost has a strong vocal and great lyrics. The song talks about hidden feelings that haunt you as they continue to effect you. This is a very personal song and its lyrics reveal much about who David was, so it’s good that he found peace with Sarah, even though that was ended abruptly. The Singer And The Song continues the autobiographical tone as this track is about how singing his songs enlivens and satisfies him. This song also has a graceful guitar break that adds to the power of the words. Forgive (But Not Forget) is a further revealing song that deals with the hurt of a failed relationship. Sangfroid follows and is another song about relationships and their transient nature, this track has great lyrics that are really heartfelt and poignant.
The album’s longest track, The Letting Go, is about loss, which is painfully ironic as David died not long after its completion. The song deals with a difficult issue, letting go of grief and moving forward. Accepting the change that has occurred and facing it bravely whilst keeping the memory alive, even though the loved one has gone. A situation many listeners will have had to do for themselves with the loss of David himself. The song then enters a haunting melancholic flute section backed with piano as David sings “The Letting Go” over an ever increasing drum pattern which, in turn, leads to sustained chords and it’s a suitably strong ending to an excellent track. The final track, Love Is All, is a far gentler piece as David exorts us that love is all that matters and, indeed, it does matter and if you find it then work hard for it, treasure and guard it as love is precious and vital to us all.
So the album ends positively and with a strong message of hope that we can all accept and employ in our own lives. So from the tragedy of David’s death, we can find hope and purpose and celebrate his memory with this fine collection of songs. David will certainly be missed but his legacy lives on in his recorded works and this album will certainly be a part of that legacy that he leaves us.
This is a difficult album if you knew the man but it’s wonderful to hear what he had been working on in these days before he left us. Give it a spin if you can and enjoy it for what is is a fine collection of promise and, ultimately, of hope.
Thank you David Longdon, Rest in Peace.
Released 14th October, 2022
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