Friday, February 3, 2017

Luke Rainsford - I feel at home with you. Album review.

If you have been to any shows in Birmingham lately there is a fair chance that you will have seen Luke Rainsford. Whether as the singer for the now defunct pop-punks Layover, or playing one of his several acoustic solo shows. Luke is an affable Wolverhampton lad whose shows are usually attended by a gaggle of pretty but sad eyed girls. Last year saw the release of Luke's Début album 'I'm nothing like my father turned out to be'. The entirely acoustic album had a raw quality to both the sound and emotion of the lyrics, while many of the songs focussed on Luke's relationships and issues with mental health. The album was on this blog's best of 2016 list and appeared on many others as well.
Less than a year after it's release comes the sophomore album 'I feel at home with you'. Which is released on the small independent label Scylla Records. Its released on the 17th of this month on cassette tape, CD and download.
The song titles alone give a clue of how this album will sound, 'All my songs sound the same' 'Boy meets girl writes song' and 'cliche' all reflect Luke's admiration for the similarly emo acoustic group Crywank. While both bands share an emotional honesty, the black humour of Crywank isn't present in Luke's lyrics. This début physical release is a mix of songs with a full band and other songs which are stripped back to just Luke and his guitar. There is a similar contrast to the songs themselves. While tracks such as the 'corny' ukulele ditty 'boy meets girl writes song' and 'home safe' are positive, hopeful love songs, other tracks such as 'nightmare's' and 'burned' are dark looks at Luke's own psyche. Luke seems to be constantly falling in and out of love, and there are too many telling lyrics here to share. On 'Burned' he sings 'when I'm with you I feel in control of my mental health' on 'Frame' he sings that he's 'too broken for anyone to love me'. Luke never wraps up his feelings in complex metaphors, his darkest thoughts are all delivered bluntly.
However none of this is is quite as miserable as it all sounds, many of the songs are backed by light drumming, and the guitar playing is often much more melodic than the handful of chords on his début. 'Home safe' mixes upbeat guitar melody's and a jaunty rhythm with the sing along chorus of  'you made me not want to die this week'. Half way through the song changes entirely to a backdrop of handclaps, backing vocals and strings. 
None of the songs here sound like they were recorded in his bedroom, but none of the songs have been ruined by the new production or backing band, the focus is still entirely on Luke and his lyrics.
The final track 'I'm the coward I never thought I'd be', is the darkest song here and the most stripped back, Luke mostly talks over a handful of strummed chords. He talks about suicidal thoughts and feelings, and how they affect both him and those around him. Rather than wallowing in misery he talks openly with a surprising bravery and honesty. The more people do this, the less stigma around mental health issues there will be.


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