“Music, once admitted to the soul, becomes a sort of spirit and never dies.” – Edward Bulwer-Lytton
Music has always had the power to move me and the grace to touch my soul profoundly. Certain types of music can bring a calming influence and an ethereal tranquility to proceedings and also give you the ability to step aside from the hectic lives we lead and the turmoil going on around us.
The beautiful, wistful and charming ‘Still’ by Glen Brielle is most definitely one of those albums and this is probably due to it being a lengthy labour of love from the main person behind the music, Hugh Carter. Founder member of Scottish ‘prog’ legends Abel Ganz, Hugh writes from the heart and is inspired mostly by personal experiences and nature around him. ‘Still’ is the resulting album from his personal journey.
If you ever want to listen to a record that really emphasises that which you cannot hear along with the perfect space between the notes then you can’t go wrong with the charming beauty of ‘Still’, an utterly wondrous collection of tracks, or should I call it Hugh’s lifelong musical journey?
The calm, beatific mood of Dawn, accentuated by the lovely birdsong, Thatcher with it’s elegant flute and sparse, pared back feel and Hugh’s beguiling, faltered vocal open the album with a wistful, almost melancholic note and immediately bring a contemplative feel of longing. The gently plucked strings that herald Mr Valentine and the jaunty fiddle solo from Fiona Cuthill that adds mischief and intrigue to the song both touch on your heartstrings with an almost spiritual note. Thankful is a wonderful, heartfelt song that shows the benefits of simplicity and gorgeous vocals. The violin on Crowsley Park Wood brings a folky nostalgia with amazing atmospheric harmonics from the delightful harpist Pippa Reid-Foster. Hugh’s halting vocals give the songs serious gravitas, his performance is brilliant and leaves you waiting for every word. The Hammond organ part delivered by ex Abel Ganz band mate Jack Webb is just stunning and Hugh says that Jack just strode into the studio one one Saturday afternoon and “just knocked it dead in no time at all!”. On Heart Lies Hugh wanted to take it back to it’s original feel of acoustic guitar and cello, rather than the synth based arrangement which ended up on the Abel Ganz ‘Shooting Albatros’ album. Unfortunately he couldn’t get hold of original cellist Wendy Wetherby but as luck would have it an old cricketing colleague Hugh Bell suggested his wife Ruth Rowlands, a professional cellist with The RSNO and Scottish Opera. Ruth’s cello playing is consummately outstanding as she weaves a sense of wonder through Hugh’s delicate acoustic guitar to give us another beuatiful song that’s all about innocence and integrity.
The Cat That Played With the Wind is an engaging , guileless instrumental that seems to dance across your senses leaving little notes of wonder and lead perfectly into the twelve minute spectacle of Slumber Sweetly with its almost far-east opening. The song came about during lockdown when Hugh’s daughter, Bee, suggested writing a song together for which she wrote all the lyrics and sang beautifully. There’s a feel of early Abel Ganz to my mind about this impressive piece and it draws you into its warm embrace and you become fully immersed in its spiritual enlightenment. Bee’s sister even joins her to create a heavenly choir accompaniment in what Hugh calls, “a fit of crazed creativity.” When he started recording Slumber Sweetly Hugh had numerous attempts to do it myself, but no matter how I tried it just didn’t sound right. So eventually I decided the only way to get it to flow and sound good was to get a band together. So one weekend the “power trio” of Malky McNiven, Deepak Bahl and Denis Smith convened at The Audio Lounge to tackle Hugh’s meandering 12 minute love song and all three are utterly amazing. That eastern wonder returns tenfold on the mysteriously seductive The Cat That Walked By Herself, another entrancing instrumental and the nostalgic, mournful violin and acoustic guitar of Moving On is emotionally touching and gives a thoughtful sincerity to the album. And so we come to the end of the album with the serene tranquility of Dusk, a perfect ending to a particularly intimate musical release.
There’s a lifetime of reflection, understanding and wisdom that has gone into ‘Still’ and it has been a privilege to be invited to join Hugh on this musical journey, one that has been an utterly compelling soul searching experience, dear listener please admit this music into your soul.
Released November 26th, 2022.
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