When I listened to the first few tracks of Antiques I realised that it was a rather special debut album. Martin Lloyd Chitty is a singer-songwriter from Lancaster – his voice retains the trace of an accent – with a remarkable talent for story-telling. He wrote, produced and performed every note on the album from acoustic guitar to grungy electric and drums.
Martin’s songwriting is reminiscent of the way the young Al Stewart used to build a story from small observations. The opening tracks, ‘Diana Camera’ and ‘You, Me & The Coffee Pot’, are both domestic stories, the first being a not-so-simple love song and the second recounting a trip to Scotland but saying much more. You would think that the third song, ‘Alaska’, would be a more expansive piece and, indeed, it records a day in…the Lake District but it’s the little details that make the song real. I won’t explain the title; that would spoil it.
The centre-piece of the album is the twelve-and-a-half minute ‘Antiques Shop (1923-2017)’. I’m guessing that most of it comes from Martin’s imagination – it’s a bit too melodramatic to be completely true – but it feels real as it tells of the owners of the titular shop and their destinies. The last verse tells how the final owner took a pocket-watch, the property of the shop’s founder, onto Antiques Roadshow – “they said that it was rare but the clip was never aired”. That is so sad that there has to be a grain of truth in it.
From here, Antiques takes a darker turn. ‘The Shadow Never Fades Away’ is a description of depression if I’m any judge and ‘Mere Mistakes’ takes that feel a step further. The record continues its downward spiral until the final track, ‘The Only Perfect Love Song’. Yes, it’s sad and nostalgic but like the first tracks it’s based a seemingly inconsequential moment and slowly takes an upturn of the kind that only music can engender ending in a cry of triumph. I do hope that we’re going to hear much more of Martin in the future.
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Artist’s website: https://martinlloydchitty.com/
‘The Only Perfect Love Song’ – live: