Every so often, a couple of times a year if you’re really lucky, a band comes along and stops you dead in your tracks. Still Corners are one such band, purveyors of a sound that you could swear you’ve heard somewhere before, but you’re damned if you know where.
The duo are a happy accident, the result of Greg Hughes getting on the wrong train and meeting Tessa Murray in what can only be referred to as the London Bridge Triangle. Their meeting has uncanny parallels in their music, for much of Creatures Of An Hour feels like a train that has been diverted off down a strange and enchanting branch line by mistake, unable to reverse and forced to drive forward, taking in some magical scenery that might have come from the imagination of Tim Burton.
This musical landscape owes much to a warm organ sound that evokes memories of the end of the pier – but not in the same way Metronomy‘s vision of the English Riviera does. There is a slightly darker edge to this instrument, often bathing the music in a lovely warm sound but sneaking in a bitter edge to some of its harmonies.
Murray’s voice has much to offer, often soothing its listener in the form of a lullaby, but occasionally dishing out a warning or two when you don’t expect it. The remarkable I Wrote In Blood is such instance of this, an innocent folk song given a barbed set of harmonies with which to work, the organ deliberately operating at a pitch that doesn’t flatter the vocal line, deliciously twisted as its tales of wrongdoing are spun. The White Session is an altogether warmer proposition, with a sound that can only be described as a steelpan heard through a thick duvet, while in The Twilight Hour, where Murray sings of how her “heart just skipped a beat”, her own wordless vocalise can be heard far off in the background, a particularly beautiful piece of window dressing.
The hushed delivery carries throughout in the foreground, Murray’s entreaties particularly rewarding after a tough day at the coalface, but these are far from routine when given the many and varied settings the pair find to cast them in, panning out suddenly from intimate asides to glorious widescreen sounds. A strong sense of pastoral English charm lies just beneath the surface, and some of the more self assembled bits of the album give this immediate charm in a way that suggests The Shortwave Set have been round for tea. But there is a strongly original strain about the music of this Greenwich duo, one which suggests they could go very far on a small budget.
So if the idea of navigating a previously untested branch line appeals, let it be the one heading to those Still Corners. It may be occasionally unnerving, but there is pure balm to be found here, music to speak to even the most troubled of souls.