The first time I listened to Astrophysics Saved My Life I didn’t get it. The second time through I couldn’t understand my problem and the third time … well, I was with it. Rivers Of England are a philosophical scientific folk-rock band led by songwriter Rob Spalding. They enjoy a somewhat fluid line-up – they may be a trio, or there may be as many as a dozen of them.
Rob’s songs are in those of a man search of a perspective on life. The title track harks back to childhood cycle rides and the memory of looking at the stars and being reassured at the wonder of it all. ‘In Universe In Universe’ takes the view that infinity extends both ways, not an idea often expressed in song. A failed relationship is at the heart of ‘Underneath The Moon’ which Rob describes as narcissistic but show me another song that can include the line “1.98 x 1020 Newtons” and have it make sense.
Having explored the infinite the band return to solid ground with ‘Norfolk’ – “big sky, slow life” – and the lure of simplicity which is reiterated later in ‘In The Barley’ by which time it seems that Rob has found his meaning. Rivers Of England are a tight band, mostly acoustic and laden with strings arranged by Danyal Dhondy. Guest guitarist Innes Sibun plays some clever but unobtrusive lines but the songs and vocal lines hold dominion as they should. This is a fine album but listen carefully and don’t try to rush it.
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‘In The Barley’ – official video: