The best music always has the power to move you, to immerse you in a beautiful story, a classic book or an Oscar winning film that is now being delivered as life changing and mood enhancing music. That’s because it’s not just music, it becomes almost part of you and affects you on a basic level, not just cerebrally but emotionally too.
I consider being a music reviewer to be an honour as I get to listen to artist’s creations that fit the description above perfectly, I’m like the great explorer’s of 1700’s and 1800’s, discovering things that others have yet to hear and it is an utter privilege when I am entrusted with these musical endeavours that are part of the being of the musician that creates them.
The singular talent that is Mark Whiteside has many strings to his artistic bow, Desks, Evil Blizzard and The Opening Song, to name a few but the musical project of One Sided Horse was how I was introduced to Mark by my friend and music guru Stuart Willoughby of Sound It Out Records (a music emporium that regularly relieves me of money as I add to my burgeoning vinyl collection).
Mark’s next One Sided Horse release is the sublime ‘My Favourite City At Night In The Rain’ on the 8th September and I have had the utmost privilege of being able to listen to the album for the last few weeks. Let me tell why I think this could well be one of the best pieces of songwriting of the last couple of decades…
Designed to be listened to as two sides of a vinyl album with no spaces between tracks, this music is best listened to with headphones on so you can immerse yourself in its wonder. Close your eyes and you will feel as if you are walking alone in the welcoming woods as the music succours you and calms your soul. The music has an intense fragility and beauty to it, the almost ABBA-like piano of opening, and title, track My Favourite City At Night In The Rain immediately engenders a feel of wonder and plaintive nostalgia and this just increases as the strings join in, giving an emotive depth that hits you right in the feels. The calm, wistful and hazy intro to The Overload Of Missing with its painfully elegant brass is emotion laid out as music and, above all, Mark’s recognisable, unique vocal gives everything a world-weary tinge, a feeling of poignancy and of having lived many lives, some great and some not so good. You allow the music to completely take over your life, lay back, let its sumptuous, contemplative wonder wash over you and just enjoy the yearning melancholy of that brilliant trumpet. There’s almost a harsh sincerity in the captivating and earnest Find The Time and a feel of the enigmatic folk music of Cornwall in its delivery, a superb song. There is sheer joy in the contemplative, dreamlike grace of Uneven Land with its refined guitar and piano and Mark’s haunting vocals that seem to catch in his throat, the dreamlike ending is utterly gorgeous. A Short Story From A Living Room In Philadelphia is a touching piece of music laid over a spoken word monologue by Grace Wohlsen that affects you way more than you would think it could Side one closes with the beguiling simplicity of Passing Years, a touching piece of music, left me emotionally drained with its shimmering fragility and beauty.
Side two opens with fragility seeping from the delicate refrains of the short but exquisite I Won’t Ask For More before the opening strains of the dynamic, charismatic and compelling Let’s Start Fires announce the arrival of one of the potent pieces on the album. Completed by the sweeping grandeur of the piano and string section, this song has real emotive power and depth that is only enhanced by the additional vocals of the talented Carol Hodge. Flightless has a mesmeric feel, a stylish captivating track that holds you in its thrall. The focus of the delightful Like Swans is the acoustic guitar and vocal that combine to deliver another lesson in the art of songwriting and especially that less is more. Swans mate for life and this exquisite piece of work is a love song and an ode to the permanency of life. The dramatic I Can’t Live Without Your Love brings a sense of drama to the album with an almost orchestral, movie soundtrack feel to the music, pared back and simple it may be but it’s as much about what’s between the notes and the words and the feelings the song creates in you than it is what you are actually hearing. Closing side two, and the album, is the Americana tinged, enrapturing grace of Close Swim. Reminiscent of hazy and lazy days with the delightful slide guitar in perfect harmony with the insouciant notes from a wonderfully played acoustic, this track is another incredible piece of songwriting that opens up into something quite wondrous and life affirming.
So, there you have it, ‘My Favourite City At Night In The Rain’ is quite possibly one of the most important albums you will listen to this year. If you want an example of why music is so wonderful and moves people in so many ways then you cannot pick a better example than this utterly triumphant work of art, Mark Whiteside and One Sided Horse please take a bow, I thank you from the bottom of my heart…
- My Favourite City At Night In The Rain
- The Overload Of Missing
- Find The Time
- Uneven Land
- A Short Story From A Living Room In Philadelphia
- Passing Years
- I Won’t Ask For More
- Let’s Start Fires
- Like Swans
- I Can’t Live Without Your Love
- Close Swim
Mark was joined in One Sided House on this endeavour by the following great musicians:
Mickey Dale, Steve Firth and Mike Heaton (Embrace), Phil Hartley (Space), Gareth Cole (Drifting Sun, The Bardic Depths), Carol Hodge (Steve Ignorant), Norm Helm (The Animals).
Mickey Dale – all recording, production and mastering on the album.
Pre-orders open 4th August, 2023 ahead of an 8th September, 2023 release.