The new album by The Bookshop Band…
The Bookshop Band stopped by my Twitter account yesterday and proved that beyond the vacuous celebrity accounts, partisan politics and football terrace abuse there are some truly artistic jewels to be found. How could one’s attention not be grabbed by a band name like that? When you think every logo, domain name or Twitter handle has been taken along come The Bookshop Band and what a welcome respite from it all they have proved to be.
The Bookshop Band are, quite literally, what it says on the album cover; a band whose blend of music is wholly influenced by the books they read and their choice of live venues include bookshops, libraries, festivals and literary events. What more could one want? Their website is a brilliant platform, it’s like a virtual second-hand bookshop you dream of stumbling upon and like a good book their music inspires the visitor to discover more.
The music is as diverse as their choice of books and their wonderful website offers the listener not only the books that have inspired them but clickable links to both a précis of the book and the lyrics to the corresponding song. A musical library shelf featuring authors from Shakespeare to Rankin, Joanne Harris to Mantel, Andrey Kurkov to Lewis Carroll. You get the idea. Take the time to discover the lyrics too, original and thought-provoking with a subtle tip of the hat to the author and book. Take Red Joan by Jennie Rooney as an example. Click on the cover, discover the book and look to the lyric of An Innocent Pride on the left. The words to the song are at once subtle but hard hitting, they capture the Cold War, the emergence of the nuclear age and the personal tragedies of those caught up in a senseless, shameful period in our recent past. “A nuclear kiss sealed my lips, a nuclear hit changed all this” It’s William Boyd in the context of a song, an entire book condensed to a single song sheet.
The lyrics are both sung and spoken and there are even guest appearances by some of the featured authors, it’s as original as the music behind it, I have simply never heard anything quite like it. It has Folk roots but don’t try to label them. The song titles read like your idea of the perfect book collection; Old Man Winter, The Howling Miller, The Life and Times of Harriet Tubman, The Napier Ball, The Ballad of Leonora and Bloody Bones, Edward Oxford and the Ballad of Spring Heeled Jack. Gloriously eclectic and charmingly quirky with echoes of Victorian London, seaside shanties and forgotten ballads.
So who are The Bookshop Band? They are cellist Beth Porter and guitarist Ben Please, two accomplished artists in their own right who are based in Bath, England but tour both in the UK, Ireland and France and can be seen throughout late summer and autumn promoting their new album Bring Me Back A Pyramid. This, the third album in a series of ten is available via the bandcamp site here and it really is delightfully good. The opening track No Place To Hide Your Lights features the spoken words of writer Peter Please and reminded me ever so slightly of early Genesis albeit without the twenty minute musical interlude! Bring Me Back a Pyramid is a joyful, uplifting song fit for a summer’s day conjuring images of travel and escape before the pace slows with A Place Called Winter. Beth’s crisp and intriguing vocal over cello and ukulele strikes me as a track to be witnessed live. Clever, new music with a memorable lyric. Held By Strangers is my favourite track on the album and for me the best new track of the year. I love the subtle accent Beth adds over a catchy acoustic, it’s over all too quickly, it’s the stuff encores are made of, it’s why the repeat button was invented. I Read A Book About Motorcycle Stories brings it all to a marvellous end. “Without exception they are quite amazing journeys” goes the lyric. The same could be said for the album.
I have reviewed this latest release for the simple fact that The Bookshop Band deserve their well earned plaudits. In a world swamped with downloads it is harder than ever to get oneself recognised but Beth and Ben offer something quite unique. Their website The Bookshop Band invites you into their world and makes you want to stay and find out more. It’s a concept to attract anyone with a passion for books and the endearing beauty of a great bookshop. The artwork for their albums are provided by a number of artists and blends effortlessly with both the music and the world of the book lover. Click on the link above, discover the band, their music, books you may not have read, bookshops you really ought to visit and dip into something thoroughly decent and worthwhile.
Categories: The Music Lounge