Mostly written in a caravan on the west coast of Ireland and recorded under his bed in London, Seel’s softly sung second album often resonates with that sense of intimacy and seclusion while also showcasing his virtuoso guitar work. The album sets out the latter’s stall with the slow waltzing ‘Take This Guitar’, basically an ode to his six string, the paths they’ve travelled and the stories they’ve told, augmented by Toni Geiling’s violin and viola. His friskier, bluesy ragtime chops are in evidence on the subsequent rhythmically choppy ‘Eyes Wider Than’.
The pace falls back for the spare, reflective ‘Practical Mind’ (“still seeking love while fencing off the garden”), Tom White bringing a New Orleans trombone feel to the slow walk rhythms of the break-up number ‘Grass Is Greener’ while the ethereal atmosphere of the floatingly dreamy ‘Blue Sky In Our Hands’ suggests a folksy Pink Floyd.
Fingerpicked with a medieval troubadour feel, ‘The River’ is another introspective stripped back number about the passage of time, shuffling into the vaguely bluesy drifting manner of ‘Before The Sun Goes Down’ with its hint of distorted electric guitar, the final song being the strummed 60s flavoured waltzing ‘Satellites’, an enduring love song given an apocalyptic 21st century twist in lines like “When all our data has been hacked by/Some kid in a basement with mud in his eye/Well I’ll still be loving you” that manages to squeeze the words oligarch and megalomaniac into the same line.
It ends with a calmed, meditative instrumental, ‘Quietus’, with its Jansch and Renbourn echoes, sustaining the album’s relaxed, low key warmth to the final notes, a spell well cast.
Artist’s website: www.alexseel.com
‘Grass Is Greener’ – official video: