SL012 Pete Astor Songbox • SOLD OUT
Songbox, Pete Astor’s sixth solo album and his first record outing for four years, marks a welcome return for a significant, if under-heralded, British underground musician finally getting his due partly thanks to a prominent role in the acclaimed Creation Records documentary Upside Down. His return is accompanied by a new album, which surely ranks among Astor’s finest recorded work since those heady ’80s heydays.
The new album marks a change in direction from Astor’s more experimental, post-Creation work in groups such as Ellis Island Sound and the Wisdom of Harry. Backed by the woodwinds of Keiron Phelan (State River Widening, Phelan-Sheppard) and Jenny Brand (Kluster Ensemble), together with layers of guitars, drums and keyboards from David Sheppard (State River Widening, Ellis Island Sound) and supported by the harmony vocals of Angèle David-Guillou (Piano Magic, Klima), the eleven essays on Songbox offer an abundance of lushly arranged, timeless chamber-rock, brimming with wry lyrical insight and haunting melodic hooks.
A potent synthesis of very British songwriting, Europhile sensibilities and a stateless cosmopolitanism, Songbox serpentines between the diseased Jacques Brel-meets-Alex Harvey monlogue of ‘Dead Trumpets’, to the baroque, Bill Fay-like murder mystery of ‘The Perfect Crime’, via chiming, nostalgia-soaked folk-pop nuggets like ‘The Ride’ and ‘Tiny Town’, and is concluded with the heart-wrenching, Leonard Cohen-like artistic hymnal ‘Mistress Of Song’.
Presented, in the Second Language label’s customary bespoke style, in a limited edition box package, the aptly titled Songbox is accompanied by an additional album of cover versions of the album songs by an eclectic lineup of illustrious fellow artists including Let’s Wrestle, The Raincoats, Darren Hayman, Comet Gain, Dollboy and Pastourelle, alongside 12 exquisite, especially commissioned fine-art postcards which illustrate the songs’ lyrics.
An ’80s indie chart-topper with his band The Loft (and later The Weather Prophets), Astor brought considered, literate songwriting craft to Creation, a label more characteristically in thrall to less cerebral ’60s pop thrills; none of which prevented him gracing the cover of the NME, the main stage at Glastonbury and the BBC’s legendary music TV showcase, Whistle Test. Astor went on to release a series of critically-lauded solo albums, touring extensively in France and across Europe, receiving Les Inrockuptibles’ ‘Album of the Year’ accolade in 1992 for the album Paradise before a fin-de-siècle ‘second coming’ with Matador recording artists The Wisdom Of Harry (who recorded three albums for the label) and instrumental duo Ellis Island Sound. A solo folk covers album Hal’s Eggs (Static Caravan, 2004) and EIS’s The Good Seed (Peacefrog, 2007) were his most recent releases.
These days, Astor divides his time between songwriting and a career as an academic at the University of Westminster and London’s Goldsmith’s College, lecturing on and researching popular music cultures.
Songbox comes in a bespoke cardboard box with 12 individual artist postcards (artwork by Neil Brown, Kerry Stewart, Darren Hayman, Eve Gonzalez, Louise Clarke, Tony Veritas, Shaun Belcher, Merida Richards, Wes Gonzalez, Mathew Sawyer, Adam Sutherland).
First 300 copies came with a bonus CDR album of alternative versions of the album tracks by Dollboy, Let's Wrestle, Darren Hayman, Comet Gain, Pete Greenwood, The Raincoats, Patrick Fitzgerald, The Proper Ornaments, Pastourelle, Mathew Sawyer and Piano Magic. BONUS CD NOW SOLD OUT - FREE DOWNLOAD CODE FOR COVER VERSIONS AVAILABLE WITH THIS PURCHASE.
1. Dead Trumpets
2. Tiny Town
3. The Ride
4. Four Letter Word
5. Slip Away
6. The Perfect Crime
8. Look Away
10. Tree of Birds
11. Mistress of Song
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Order the album now from Second Language. ALL PRICES INCLUDE POST AND PACKAGING.