A perfect illustration of how even an ad hoc Findlay Napier album can become a compelling, essential work; it is what it is, and what it is is great.
Findlay Napier – It is what it is
The Bothy Society – October 1st, 2021
"It Is What It Is" is a coincidental album that arose from the idea of recording a few days with pianist Angus Lyon to celebrate the end of the lockdown. As the song grew Findlay Napier decided to introduce some more musicians. There are also contributions from Admiral Fallow drummer Ludwig Abbot, Bass player Euan Burton, Canadian singer-songwriter Terra Lightfoot, Background singer Donna Maciocia and Megan Henwood, Gustaf Ljunggren on train and sheet metal and Gillian frame on violin.
The album begins with the first co-writing of Napier and Lyon, the piano-based title song after the loss (“One set of Footprints in the Morning Dew”) with the visit of a songbird as a sign from the afterlife that has the flair of a film soundtrack the 30s. Written with Boo Hewardine, Piece Of My Heart offers a faster, more dynamic, steady Celtic soul chug; touching to find his own place ("I built a tunnel down in the gorge / nailed poppies and rosary / put an oven and a case of beer in it").
Again with an old-school feel based on the three types of narcissism, I've Never Been Wrong is a light-hearted little blues song about self-assurance ("I'm sorry it's weak to give in / It's sorry I'm sorry you voted for someone as strong as me / I don't know why you're crying / As if I was guilty of a crime "). It gives way to another piano-based retro crooning swayer Under The Moon on a similar topic," Darlings safely home ”.
Lightfoot's guitar is used on the bluesy American Promise American Lies, a song that was inspired by an encounter in a late 90s bar in Speyside with an American tourist disguised as Tom Waits (“Just enough unshaven, tattoos on display / He drank Bourbon neat, then he pushed the glass away / When he drew the smoke into his lip, it curled sneeringly / Washed up in the Highlands like a gaudy souvenir ”), the title sums up the metaphor pretty well.
With Maciocia on soulful harmonies, a constantly chugging bassline and piano notes underpin Slip Of The Tongue, an ironic number about an artist who shoots himself in the foot by accidentally saying the wrong thing ("In one word, his career was ruined" ). Then comes The La La Song, which is just that, just two and a half minutes long & # 39; la la & # 39; with Maciocia, Frame, Henwood and Lucy Napier as background vocals and some whistling from Napier to what the liner notes describe as a setting, repeat the Tories Brexit policy down to the music, the return to normality with the second Hewardine Co-author, White Collar Criminal, based on the serial cheater Peter Foster and his self-justification ("There is no innocent man / He & # 39; ll find a loophole to get what he can / So it is, free economy / Cheating everyone, everyone lies").
Henwood returns as backing vocals with Lyon on piano and accordion for the dreamy waltz Madison Avenue Worry Lines, relying on ads that target body image and fear of old age, in a playful text with a serious message (“Dishpan hands ill-seated Dresses / Tear the Mustache from your face … This is not a shape for a girl / When everyone thinks small ")
What’s The Bets is a half-spoken blues that Napier buzzed around unrecorded for years and takes on a tango-like groove. The song combines a narrative of gambling and relationship breakdowns where I don't have to point to the points. "Torn betting slips on the subway floor / Another little flutter, now the dream is over / She touched you on the shoulder when she walked out the door".
No Dylan cover, Napier strumming and with frame on the violin Gates Of Eden was inspired by the Ethan Coen book of the same name, but also by a scene in the Good Omens TV series. Although the lyrics themselves are firmly in the "How do you hurt those you love" category.
With Napier in the lead and backing vocals together with Henwood, the album ends with the suitably dreamy piano and vocal ballad Last To Leave. It's a bittersweet, poignant picture of the budding performer who has to clean up the theater after everyone has left ("Good night to all the dancers, to the cast and crew / I watch the people move out and say their goodbyes / Now the stage is ready for my one man show ”), imagine what it would be like to be in the spotlight (“ Imagine all these faces, imagine the applause / Imagine being in the spotlight and picking up the flowers / All this adoration you'd never feel so low. ”Judy Garland would have loved it. A perfect illustration of how even an ad hoc Findlay Napier album becomes a compelling, indispensable work; it is what it is and what it is is great.
It Is What It Is is out October 1st:
Pre-order here: https://thebothysociety.com/product/cd-findlay-napier-it-is-what-it-is/
Save in advance: https://ingroov.es/it-is-what-it-is-34ep3
Photo credit: Elly Lucas