Silent Sleep-Walk Me to the Sea (Rekordmeister)
Often melancholy, always beautiful, the brand new Silent Sleep album, and it’s painfully autobiographical nu-folk sound sits well with LTW’s Nyika Suttie.
Silent Sleep is the project of Christopher McIntosh, a Liverpudlian singer-songwriter who embarked on a two year trip to Berlin to write music. Finding himself with enough songs written for an album, but no funds or band to record with, he turned to crowdfunding in order to get his songs recorded and released. He returned to Liverpool, and ‘Walk Me To The Sea’ is the rather lovely result.
The album opens with ‘You Can Colour Me In’, a mix of gorgeous backing vocals, soaring violins and some rather cheerful sounding trumpets. McIntosh’s voice is unmistakably Northern and his lyrics matter of fact. He does not shy away from the mundane or the ordinary, and this really makes the album what it is.
‘Black Tide’ continues in a similarly cheerful vein, but the lyrics become melancholy, giving the song a dissonance that keeps you listening. ‘Once or Twice’ is bright and breezy to begin with, but again the lyrics tell a different story: “Once or twice I thought this could be nice, Dad has it been so long? God, I couldn’t be more wrong,” McIntosh sings, recalling painfully his first meeting with his father at the age of 27, and the subsequent rejection made more raw in the fact that it is not his first. One thing that makes this album particularly special is the honesty and truth in the lyrics. McIntosh writes about things which have really happened to him, and you can tell he’s poured his heart into his music.
‘We’ve Fallen Out Again’ takes the album into a darker, far more melancholy phase, continued in the title track, ‘Silent Sleep’. “This is the worst day of my life so far”, he sings, and finally the music reflects the lyrics with devastating effect. This is not a song for a sunny day. McIntosh’s experience of the long, bleak Berlin winters clearly shows here, leaving the listener achingly sad in a way that only the most heart wrenching of songs can. Indeed this song could be called depressing, but McIntosh finds the sad songs easiest to write, and I’d imagine the most truthful too.
‘It Breaks Me’ swoons with violins and Northern charm as a girl is mourned and a heart broken. Two years is a long time to be away from home, and this is just one song that reflects this. ‘Come Let Us Run Away’ features a lilting flute whilst being fairly self-explanatory lyrically.
‘On The Steps of the Bombed Out Church’ reeks of home-sickness and regret, but set beautifully in lyrics that conjure images of icy streets and the aforementioned church. The song is simple in subject matter, an apology to his mum for not being the son he should be, but entirely relatable; I’m sure we’ve all had such thoughts. Finally the song breaks into clapping, mariachi trumpets and general cheeriness, bringing the album, and the listener away from the sad thread that has run through much of the album.
The last song, ‘Walk Me To The Sea’ is almost a song of defiance, a message to an ex about new loves gained and how he’s glad she didn’t contact him. This new partner loves McIntosh more than she ever did, and he rewards himself with more simple lyrical imagery that sends your mind wandering. “Walk me through the waves to the sound of amusement arcades” is probably my favourite lyrics of the whole album and sees McIntosh end the album at the start of a new and hopefully happier journey.
Indeed this is not a happy album, but then life is not always happy. It is as essential to have music to cry to as music to dance to, although this is probably best avoided if you’re homesick or broken hearted. ‘Walk Me to the Sea’ is an excellent debut album, it’s not complicated lyrically, but it’s entirely relatable. However, for the sake of Christopher McIntosh’s sanity, I hope the next one is a little happier.
Words by Nyika Suttie. More writing by Nyika on Louder Than War can be found here.