President Sweetheart: I Play My Shadow
January 29th 2016 | Big Potato Records | Albums
President Sweetheart consists of Tom Butterworth (Main Vocals & Acoustic Guitar); Nick Holton (Keyboards, Electric Guitar & Backing Vocals); Ian McCutcheon (Drums & Backing Vocals); Paul Blewett (Bass & Backing Vocals); and Tom Crook (Electric & Acoustic Guitar).
‘I Play My Shadow’ is Holton's first album since his space rock collaboration ‘Black Hearted Brother’ with Mark van Hoen and Neil Halstead. With the latter, Holton's partnership stretches back over 15 years of writing together and producing each other's albums and now releasing Presidents Sweetheart’s first album on Big Potato Records.
Tom Butterworth, singer and co-author of ‘I Play My Shadow’, is Holton's other musical partner. An erstwhile screenwriter (Fortitude/Birthday Girl) they have been beavering away writing and recording for nearly as long. It’s a creative friendship which both feel channels their most meaningful, honest and - as a bi-product - darkest ideas. They share a love of a strong melody and thoughtful words.
The album documents some very tragic times from the past and the present, the eternal waxing and waning of private hopes and fears. Sweetheart and Halstead find themselves at the centre of a scene. A very secret English scene stretching from Oxfordshire to Somerset to Cornwall, that has quietly nurtured itself for 20 years. A connection of various bands and projects over time, they’ve kept music running through their lives despite 'the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune'. Some hit it big young, got burned, dropped out, came back. Others found more wandering paths for the music to slowly find the light of day. Some among this scene came forward to put loving flesh & bone to the songs on this album, steering it from freaked out pop to a more honest stripped back feel.
The final tracks were selected & recorded in Holton's 'Oaki Room' analogue studio over one weekend with Ian. Spooked opener ‘There’s A Light’ is a scared prayer; the band at their country-soulmost. ‘Still Not Right’: a swinging, bitter-sweet tip of the hat to lost girls on those lost nights. Lo-fi growler ‘Not Just Killing You’ and stripped back ‘Promise’ serenades bad endings and painful beginnings and wonder at both being fevers that pass. ‘Other Girls’ is a story full of a past regret for a young girl taking her life, musically building a chiming psychedelic swoon into a thumping, J Mascis meets the Stooges outro. ‘Why Did You Forgive Me’ ushers in a hard earned sweetness. A prayer of gratitude and bemusement at waking up happy in the middle of a life. ‘I Get Lost’ is a gnarly, bouncy finger pointer. The band easing into a pumping Stax groove, decrying frozen marriages everywhere. ‘Our Love’ is a sonic stand out. A stately acoustic guitar and drum bloom into a blissed out shimmering raga - Flaming Lips meet Giorgio Morodor. An epic nine minutes, it’s its own thing man. Closer ‘Speak, Whistle and Hope’ brings it al home with a barrelhouse knees-up.
It’s a collection brimming with hope and ecstasy and cut through with loss and melancholy. Like the band’s name, it promises an adventure in contradictions. Which, as Sam Shepard said, is the only place to be .....
1 There's A light
2 Still Not Right
3 Not Just Killing You
5 Do You Feel Like Those Other Girls
6 Why Did You Forgive Me?
7 I Get Lost
8 Our Love
9 Speak Whistle Hope