Small Wonders, album was an enjoyable listen to from front to back, top to bottom, left to right, and start to finish. Are there any other ways to listen to the album that I missed? I was tempted to say that I listened to the vinyl record from the first groove to the last, but then I woke up, had a cup of joe, put my brain in gear and avoided that mistake. You may be asking yourself why that was a mistake. You will need to read through this blog to find the answer to that question.
I was also tempted to say that I liked this album very much with a half dozen very’s. I also avoided that blunder and can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed this recording. So, why did I find this album such a good listening experience? The answer to that question has more than one answer, but I will try to explain it as concisely as possible.
Right off the start, I like the album cover. It is minimalist and conveys the information we need to know in a pleasantly neat package but remains artistic and lovely to peruse. Art is often challenging to put into words, and that applies to this album cover. I like it just because I like it.
The music? Yeah, I like it as much, if not more than I like the album cover. The reason I like it is equally difficult to explain as the cover art was. The musicianship is top-notch and flows from soft folk-influenced music, as heard on the opening track, Smile Through The Dark, to in-your-face rock, as heard on I Don’t Want To Be That Kind Of Guy.
Starry Skies display their mastery over their musical instruments without being ostentatious. Warren McIntyre plays guitar, sings lead vocals, writes lyrics and answers emails from people like me. Johnny Rooney is on lead guitar, and Jenny Lunan is on Cello/Vocals. Heather Phillips on violin adds her vocals to the wonder of Small Wonders. Sophie Pragnell is on viola/vocals/percussion, Adam Scott on bass, and Mike Harrison plays drums. Mike is also the head of sound for Snarky Puppy.
I found the lyrics right up my alley; they tell short stories, and I like that. My favourite book is a collection of short stories, and Starry Skies tell short stories with aplomb. A great example of their storytelling is Spitfire Susie, a song about Warren’s neighbour Miss Susie Ross who died in 2021, aged 99. They became friends when she offered her empty garage to park his 1967 Vauxhall Victor. He started to drive her to visit her best friend in a care home and do her daily shopping. The song, Spitfire Susie, was released on what would have been her 100th birthday, and it was played at her funeral. That, my friends, is a great story song.
One more example of lyrics that jumped out at me. I Don’t Wanna Be That Kinda Guy is the song.
“Played the drums in a rock n roll band
Shy boy trying not to reveal
All the weakness and fear inside
And I learned how to never feel
I don’t wanna be that kinda guy…”
Songs that speak to our souls are special. Songs that speak to my soul get my attention and this one sure did.
Warren McIntyre comments on the lyrics. “This record is intended to celebrate the small wonders that are all around us if we open our eyes to see them. The songs were written during 2021, when we were all really grateful for small things like being able to go for a walk with a friend. But, as a collection, they ended up a bit of a mish-mash of lyrical-led protest songs, some folk-pop with cello, viola and violin, a beautiful, sparse piano ballad and even a couple of punky indie dance floor fillers,”.
I could go on and on about the lyrics and the music accompanying those words, but I want to encourage you to listen and discover the stories yourself. I have a saying for listening closely to music, listening intentionally. It is listening to hear what each instrument adds to the final mix. Listening to vocal inflections, does it go up as an indication of interest or hope? Or do they go down to imply seriousness, hopelessness or sorrow? Yeah, that’s what I do; I listen intently. Small Wonders is an excellent album to mine for the details.
The Small Wonders album is currently available for pre-order. As of August 12, it will be available everywhere, including Apple Music, Spotify and Bandcamp, and on CD and sky-blue vinyl. It can be ordered from record shops or purchased directly from Last Night From Glasgow. The album is distributed through Proper Distribution in the UK and Redeye in the USA.
‘Smile Through The Dark’ https://starryskies2.bandcamp.com/track/smile-through-the-dark
‘Kind Hearted People’ https://soundcloud.com/foxstarrecords/05-starry-skies-kind-hearted-people-rev1
‘Spitfire Susie’ https://starryskies2.bandcamp.com/album/spirfire-susie-ep
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A vinyl record has one groove that spirals from the edge towards the centre.