Album Review | Self Release | Review by Allan Wilkinson
In times like these, when socialising in numbers is not only frowned upon but actively discouraged, isolation becoming the norm, it’s good for the soul to be given the opportunity to think about the importance of home and to be presented with a thoughtfully executed soundtrack to accompany our solitude. The world immediately prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 had become almost unbearable, forcing some of us into voluntary isolation even back then and to think once again about the importance of those in our immediate proximity. Paul Armfield captures the essence of ‘home’ in some of its various aspects on this new ten track album, from the actual ‘mortar, bricks and sticks’, in his case on the Isle of Wight, to the people and things within, with each song delivered in a gentle homely arrangement and enriched by his familiar velvet tones, which is like a fine red wine that you don’t mind paying that little bit more for.
If we think back to the months immediately prior to the lock down, the world had become almost unbearable with the furore of the election result and the ongoing Brexit/Remain debate, so a song like “I’m Not Here” becomes an anthem for those of us in utter despair, me included. “I’m Not There” continues to soundtrack feelings about the state of our society. Then, for any parent who has gone through the trauma of the ‘university farewell’, “Fledgling” rings certain bells and is a clear reminder of the curious mix of sadness and relief (and occasionally the clinking of Champagne glasses), but also the fact that the door always remains unlocked. The songs are written with intelligence and a burning curiosity and are wrapped in a cover created from Paul’s own linocuts, which somehow fits perfectly with the subject at hand. Domestic has a lot more to do with homeliness than loneliness and serves as a good friend in these extraordinary times.
Choice Track: I’m Not Here (NSV 508)