Album Review | Naim Records | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 4/5
At 16, Music college students Jamie Cameron and James MacDonald, as When I Was A Little Girl, recorded the well received 2005 independent album Good Morning Sunshine and Goodnight, a year later a tragic car crash, involving them both, claimed the life of James. By his own admission Jamie had had an uneventful, idyllic life until that point. He found it difficult to comprehend. “I thought I came out of it relatively mentally unscathed, although in hindsight that’s a trick you tell yourself”. Eventually over the course of years, with Luke Hayden, a new musical partner, as The Last Dinosaur, Jamie began to very perceptively address his feelings about life, dying and process his grief. There was no conscious decision to write an album about anything, but the songs that came all dealt with similar themes and getting them down was ultimately cathartic. Picking up where The Blue Nile, Talk Talk and Mark Hollis left off, with an intimate ambient sound built around strings and electronica, The Last Dinosaur have created a cocooning set of tone poems. Jamie Cameron’s vocals, breathed into the microphone and his potent stroked acoustic guitar infuse the album with a warmth and a glow. The album The Nothing is uplifting and life-affirming, its lyrics may tackle the subject of mortality head on, but the overlapping, interlaced and sometimes fragmentary melodies are like drifting in and out of a blissful reverie. Atoms opens with a deceptively simple acoustic guitar as Cameron looks beyond the pain of now, to a bigger picture and to find some sense of it all. Grow, with its cycling electronics and atmospherics and the most spectral of lead guitar notes is almost Floydian as it creates a potent pastoral soundscape, a moment to lose yourself in. The National Stage reflects on the transitory nature of physical existence against a buoyant guitar riff and some glorious strings. “All My Faith” and “Well Greet Death” have the lush acoustic warmth of Blue Rose Code or Bears Den, with choral voices and affirming lyrics that just carry you away on uplifting sonic pillows. That dream like state is further stretched by the Penguin Café Orchestra like instrumental “The Body Collapse” which continues the beautiful minimalist piano motifs, electronica and a glorious viola piece from Rachel Lanskey. “Wings” stretches Jamie’s breathed intimate vocals to their most whispered and hypnotic, every syllable is precious and given space, contrasted by the lush string passage in the song. “On Water” builds emotion with waves of electronics, sampled vocals and a bubbling keyboard motif. “The Sea” builds slowly, tension is created by a plucked string and another gloriously potent vocal and its tales of metaphorical oceans and the journey of life. “Goodnight” imagine Bill Evans’ careful melancholic piano chords filtered through the warm soundscapes of The Blue Nile. A beautiful and considered album which works sonically and thematically as a whole, like Frank Sinatra’s Wee Small Hours, rather than a concept album. Real life, shot through with real pain and loss has led to an album that deals on an intimate level with some of the big issues, achieving an emotional intensity that speaks to everyone regardless of their situation. You cannot fail to be moved or captivated by this.