Flying the Bristol flag for UK Americana, comprising frontman Tom Corneill, lead guitarist Simon Whitehead with Lee Cole and Rich Beeby providing the rhythm section, Time Is Not On Our Side is Young Martyrs second album, opening with the chiming sounds of ‘Let Me Know’, the song addressed to a former lover for whom he still has feelings that mingles guilt and concern over her new relationship (“Will you fight and disagree/And will he lie to you like me/Will he tell you you’re the world/While he’s kissing other girls”). Post break-up remains the territory for the slower, more plangent ‘He Can Stay’ (“He can stay if he wants you/He can stay if he has the heart/There’s a reason I’m not there/There’s a reason we’re apart/It isn’t love/At least not for you”) that sounds like a scene from some banal soap romance (“I won’t stay very long now/I just came for my bags/I’d like to say I can’t remember/That you can’t miss what you ain’t had/But it was love/At least it was for me”) but still comes with an emotional kick.
Sung from the perspective of some pub covers band (“We’ll give ‘em Oasis and Chapman and then/We’ll do Del Amitri again”), the power of music to connect and ease the hurt is at the heart of the slow, bluesier swaying ‘I Will Sing For You’ (“Tell me was it a heartbreak that burned you/Did you gamble your money away/Have you children at home? Do you live on your own?/Does somebody miss you today?/I might never know where you’re going/Or how many lives you have lived/I’m just happy to watch you smiling along”).
Opening with a minimal pulsing accompaniment but closing with the drums and guitars firing on all cylinders, ‘Birds’ is all glass half empty (“Sweetheart I love you but when will it end?/Just suffocating again and again”) while, duetting with Natalie Brice on vocals, ‘I Never Gave You The Blues’ returns to relationship aftermaths (“You were the sun, you were the moon and everything in between/It’s been a long time but so often I still find you lying beside me in dreams/I miss your touch, I miss your voice, I miss the way that you breathe”), both seeing themselves as the injured party (“You came to me broken, your heart wide open, the world had damaged your wings/And you needed shelter, you needed release…I gave my love, I gave my trust, I gave you all of my time/But you set off alone and you never came home”), though acknowledging they might have done better (“I hope that you forgive me now/I’ve got so much to say but I wouldn’t know how/And I’m sorry that I let you down/If I only knew back then the things I know now/Before we went off the tracks”).
Indeed, broken and bruised hearts, yearning for the unattainable or lost connections are pretty much the staple throughout. On the lightly picked ‘Maybe’, Corneill muses “Have you met someone you won’t regret?/Caring for even though they’re not yours” and “Maybe she will only find you when you’re gone”, while riding power chords ‘Here And Now’ reps the album’s pinnacle with its lyrics of loss (“Jesus you might not remember/We used to be friends a long time ago/I’m sorry I never call you/But there’s something that I need you to know/My mother passed away, I guess you saw her come through the gate/And now I’m thirty-eight and still don’t know how to behave”) and lost direction (“thought that when we get older/We’d just kind of know which way to choose/But short of divine intervention/It’s fifty/fifty whether we win or we lose”) as he pleads “I just need someone to show me how to be”.
That said, it’s not all downcast, as ringing guitars return for ‘Everyone Else Disappears’ and the lines “You will always be everything I ever needed/When you look at me everyone else disappears/I can hardly breathe when I’m not with you my darlin’…When you see my eyes and recognise how much you mean to me/I see your eyes and we agree”. Or, opening with slow marching drum beats and measured guitar chimes, ‘Again’ is a slow burn ballad about second chances and second tries (“It’s not as if we haven’t been here before/But it’s been a while and I miss the way that you feel… Just come around, there’s no one here, we can be anyone/We’ll see where it goes”) as even if it’s just “one for the road”, there’s something ineffably romantic in the call to “get it wrong together again”. Despite what the album title says, this album suggests their time has most certainly come.
Artists’ website: www.youngmartyrs.com
‘Let Me Know’ – official video: