Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The Pearlfishers, Love & Other Hopeless Things, 2019

Album Review

By Henry Lipput

"Get ready to be overjoyed," sings David Scott in the song "You Can Take Me There" on The Pearlfishers’ absolutely wonderful new album Love & Other Hopeless Things. It's an invitation to love a group of songs that are anything but hopeless.

David Scott is from Scotland; and he is the driving force, and main songwriter, of The Pearlfishers. He's in fine voice on the new album, and his piano plays a prominent role in the arrangements.

I found out about The Pearlfishers (I hesitate to use the word "discovered" because it would make be sound like Brian Epstein, and I'm obviously not.) on an Uncut magazine front cover CD from 2009 called London Pride! One of the songs on the CD that caught my ear was "London's In Love" from The Pearlfishers' 2007 album Up With The Larks. I quickly made a trip to my local record shop and ordered a copy and have been a fan ever since.

I've been listening to Up With The Larks for 10 years now, but I haven't noticed the sort of the up-front influences that Scott makes use of on Love & Other Hopeless Things. It's certainly not a criticism of his writing; and, because it's from people I admire and enjoy listening to, it just makes my appreciation of his new album that much better.

For example, the title track and opening number "Love & Other Hopeless Things" begins with a trumpet flourish; and, immediately, we're in Burt Bacharach territory -- but not just Bacharach but Elvis Costello / Burt Bacharach territory. The song can remind you right off of their work on the great Painted from Memory album. In addition to the trumpets, there's a lovely, melancholy string quartet near the end of the song.

With the office-worker-in-the-city themes and lines like the opening "Another foggy Monday morning / Sail the ferry to town" of "Love & Other Hopeless Things," there's also "On a dress down day / you're gonna dress up anyway" and the recurring "Think of all the people's dreams." I couldn’t help but think not only of Paul McCartney's "Eleanor Rigby" but also "Another Day."

"You Can Take Me There" is one of the brightest gems on the album with its bouncy piano riff, handclaps, female backing vocals, and some falsetto singing from Scott. It's also a tip-of-the-piano-lid to the late, great Laura Nyro and certainly a brother to her "Wedding Bell Blues:" "Won't you let me take your hand / 'Cause I want to share your name / Choose me / If you need a friend to blame / And I'll go / If you want to take me there." And, as a nod to the ups and downs of love and marriage, he sings, "Get ready to be overjoyed / Get ready to be disappointed."

With its acoustic guitar, organ fills, and a classic "Wichita Lineman" guitar solo, "You'll Miss Her When She's Gone" could have been written by Jimmy Webb in the mid-60s and, sung by Glen Campbell, would have been a hit on AM radio. It's a sad song about doing what needs to be done despite heartbreak: "And the day will come / And the sun will rise / And her flowers will bloom before your eyes / And you'll sweep the yard / And you'll mow the lawn / And you'll miss her when / She’s gone."

Love & Other Hopeless Things is out now on Marina Records.

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