“Music will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.” – Dietrich Boenhoffer.
Let’s be honest, we all know I love music in all its various guises and genres. There is music that can be flippant and fly away but give pleasure for a fleeting moment. Some music will give you solace in times of sorrow and some music is just so darn powerful it makes you feel distinctly alive and like you have been dragged through a hedge backwards (in a nice way, obviously).
To me, however, the most important music you will ever listen to is the music that is life affirming. Music that salves the soul, lifts you up and transcends mere ordinary life. This music is almost sentient, a living breathing creature that can become part of your very being, enveloping you in its warm embrace and giving succour.
As an author I strive to find music that gives meaning and I like to sing its praises from the rooftops. What is the point of my writing if not to spread the good word of such music and the artists that create it and bring it to life? Music touches us emotionally where mere words cannot.
I thank whatever greater power may be up there for the chance I have been given to spread the word if such musical luminaries and I have, once again, been given the honour of bringing such a musical treasure trove to your attention.
Ladies and Gentlemen I give you We Are Kin and ‘Pandora’.
Initially 3 of the members of We Are Kin (Gary Boast, Daniel Zambas and Hannah Cotterill) met whilst playing as backing musicians in 2011 to the Manchester UK based pop-duo The Reclusive Barclay Brothers’). Gary (drums and anything techie) and Dan (guitar, keys and vocals) began discussing music during rehearsal breaks and very quickly realised that they shared a love of progressive music, specifically Genesis. It was during these discussions that the two embarked on an idea to begin collaborating and writing their own music to satisfy their progressive needs!
One of the earliest compositions was ‘Home Sweet Home’, once this materialised Gary and Dan realised that they had created something they were both very proud of and decided to aim to create a full band to realise their progressive dreams. During these sessions they invited ‘Barclay Brothers’ backing vocalist Hannahto join to add vocal credibility to the recorded music.
At this point they began collaborating with Hannah with writing new music and momentum started to build, unfortunately for the band Hannah obtained a music contract working on cruise ships performing music. This was the defining moment for We Are Kin, back down to 2 full-time members at the beginning of 2013 what could they do to develop? The answer, a concept album, ‘Pandora’.
Hannah returned for some recording sessions to add her spin on the music at the back-end of 2013 and also in collaboration with the Scottish Poet Alex Dunedin, they finished the recordings and released their debut album in March 2014.
Towards the back end of 2014 the band enlisted fellow muso Dave Hopkinson to bring life to the bass in our sounds. They have begun writing / recording new material whilst rehearsing to begin getting Pandora into venues in the New Year!
Home Sweet Home introduces you to the mellow side of the band, Hannah’s mellifluous voice has an immediate calming effect and drips with honey. The music on this track has a distinct feeling of small town America to it. The wordplay and delicate chords trip lightly across your consciousness leaving small pools of delight wherever they touch down. As the first track on the album it disarms you and welcomes you into the warm embrace of a captivating musical journey. Let Me In floats into view trance like, like you are floating in a dream. Seductive and bewitching, it plays with your aural receptors, lulling you into a world of half light and sensuous pleasures. The slow, alluring guitar solo, deliberately kept low in the mix, is a work of art. Despite its wispy, ethereal nature, there is a strong substance to the songwriting and it holds you in its spell throughout the track. The measured, retiring charm of the first track returns on the entirely beguiling Soul. Waif like and celestial, there is a fragile majesty to this delicate gem. To steal a quote from elsewhere, there is almost an unbearable lightness of being to the song, a transparency that allows you to see deep down into the soul. The way it soars into the stars towards the end of the track is sublime.
The soul searching and bare honesty of the first three tracks is pushed aside to reveal something more immediate and electronic based with The Hard Decision. More of a mainstream feel is given to the song with an underlying riff that adds grittiness to proceedings. The Keyboards, drums and guitar all combine to produce an upbeat track with an intriguing complexity running through its core. More of story than a song, the further you get into the heart of the song there seems to be social conscience deep at the centre of its being. It left me feeling like there was more to explore and more to come. Without Them is just excellent songwritng all the way through. Dan’s earnest vocal with a halting catch is perfectly judged and the slow burning introduction grabs your attention, focusing your mind. You can feel that it is building into something quite powerful and impressive as the guitar and keyboard lays a trail for you to follow. I can’t get away from the inevitable comparison so I won’t, definite touches of Pink Floyd abound, the complex building blocks are there for all to see and the incredibly haunting guitar solo is one that David Gilmour would have been proud to call his own. My favourite track on the album bows out with a delicate, searching piano note. The gentle piano and vocal led intro to Tides of Midnight is a thing of beauty. Hannah’s voice is at its magnificent best and carries on captivating your mind and soul with its gossamer like divinity. The song transports you to a place of refined solitude where nothing can disturb your enjoyment. Light and airy with an unearthly feel, the whole song and especially Hannah’s vocal, permeates your inner being to leave a feeling of serenity and bliss, the poignant guitar note adding a layer of polished veneer.
Faith is a short but entirely satisfying instrumental of amazing poignancy. The sound effects introduce a feeling of summer shower before the music is left, pared back and bare of soul to deliver an intense and powerful shot to your system. It leaves you emotionally drained. Delivering a slab of funky acoustic guitar and precise measured vocals, the introduction to The Algorythm intrigues as it treads its own unique path through the musical wizardry of the album. The chilled out keyboards are a clever touch and central to the whole raison d’etre of the song. It is intelligently written and takes an unexpected turn right around halfway through with a classy piano interlude that makes your ears perk up and listen. Music this inventive and perceptive does not come our way all that often and should be drunk in and devoured right to the core, the Fish inspired poetic voice over as the song comes to a close is quite superb. The introduction to Weight of the World makes me smile every time I hear it. That 80’s inspired synth sound is brilliant. The intricate drumming builds up the anticipation as the song bursts into life like a growling exponent of electronica. The frequent reining in back to a gentle piano and heartfelt vocal is astute and gives the song a feeling of gravitas and maturity. Like a barely caged animal, eventually it breaks loose and hits you with a funky, distorted guitar solo that burns with a hot white light, so many shrewd twists and turns abound you hardly know where you are. Like a supernova, it eventually burns itself out but not without leaving an indelible impression on your retinas.
Without wanting to cause any confusion, the next track is called The End but isn’t the final track on the album, got that? A lilting, soft focused soap box track of tender acoustic guitar and laid back vocals with just enough hint of a lament to leave you slightly off kilter. It is a tranquil and placid song that leaves me feeling quizzical and sad before taking a harder edge with a strident guitar led interlude. As it runs out it leaves me with a feeling of melancholy that I can’t quite pin down. The Door begins with a wraith like keyboard introduction that takes on substance as the track continues. Another ambient led song, delicate and soothing, it is dreamlike and engenders a feeling of peacefulness and confidence. A profound and arresting piano led interlude leaves me speechless with its passion and fervour and as this enchanting song continues I feel involved and completely central to the music, as if I am an intentional part of its make-up. This incredible album comes to a close with Breathe Out. A calming and serene piano instrumental that is refined, delicate and graceful and leaves you with a feeling that your soul may have just been saved by music.
‘Music’ is only a five letter word. To me, that is not long or big enough to convey how my life has been changed for the better by music. Life is just more complete with music and the best praise I can give We Are Kin is to say that, for the sixty four minutes I listen to ‘Pandora’, my life is irrevocably a much better place to be. A group of musicians that can do that are well worthy of note so, watch this space, your life could take on more meaning too.
Read the original review here – http://www.ladyobscure.com/albums/we-are-kin-pandora/