Recorded between Edinburgh and Reykjavik (yes, you did read that correctly) and produced by Rod Jones (Idlewild) and Arnar Guðjónsson from the cult Icelandic band Leaves, Faces and Places is the debut solo album by Scottish artist Mark W. Georgsson.
Formerly of the now defunct Glasgow band The Velveteen Saints, Georgsson unveiled some tracks from Faces and Places at the Electric Fields Festival last year and there has been something of a buzz of activity in anticipation of his debut release since.
Lyrically intriguing and featuring an array of talented musicians, the album opens with the aptly titled ‘Break Free’. The gentle number floats through the airwaves with Georgsson’s soulful vocal melting in the listener’s ear as he sings “I will break free…without your love”.
Speaking to Georgsson, he informs ‘Oh, My Dear Friend’ is one he wrote “with close and distant friends in mind. Just to say, even if we don’t see each other or speak to each other as much as we used to, I wanted to say they’re all still really important to me and I’ll still do anything for them if they ever need me to.”
Title track ‘Faces And Places’ follows and slows the pace with a dreamy, almost jazz, vibe as the piano and sax fuse perfectly alongside Georgsson’s vocal. “I turn and I face the morning sun…I turn and I shield my face from that evening sun”.
‘Rodeo’ radiates sunshine as the country-tinged Americana-influenced track ascends into a piano/sax crescendo that demands to be played on a road trip through the dusty heartland.
‘Nickel and Dime’ continues in the same vein albeit the violin adds another dimension before Georgsson strips the song back to showcase his impressive vocal.
Lyrically ‘Forever Lonely Forever Blue’ appears to reflect on love before lead single and the simply stunning ‘The Ballad Of The Nearly Man’ featuring Katie McArthur provides a delicate and breathtaking vocal alongside Georgsson’s own. The track is a thing of beauty as it lifts the soul up into the clouds over the Atlantic Sea.
Georgsson comments: “Nearly Man was my attempt at trying to write a traditional type Scottish folk song. The idea also came about from speaking to guys in pubs who would tell me stories about things they could have done in their life, but never actually did… they were nearly a professional footballer, they nearly travelled the world, they nearly made a fortune, they nearly pulled a Supermodel… the nearly men.”
‘A Banjo Lament’ is another stand-out moment with the banjo providing the basis for another uplifting song as Georgsson sings “there’s a girl that I’ve seen in Glasgow city yesterday….if I see her again I’d love to hear what she’s got to say”.
‘Stay’ follows and is a moving string infused heart-puller that radiates love from the core with a vulnerable vocal that resonates from the very first listen.
The ten-track album closes out with ‘You’re Not Alone’, where Georgsson pushes his vocal alongside a memorable piano-backed track. Melodic throughout, this is a stunning folk, country-tinged album that radiates positivity and the combination of Georgsson’s vocal alongside a variety of instruments throughout ensures his debut release is captivating from start to finish (a pleasant surprise awaits you at the end of track 10).
Available now on limited edition 12-inch vinyl and digital download from new independent label Last Night From Glasgow, Faces And Places is already getting tongues wagging with Georgsson’s debut nominated for Scottish Album of the Year.
(Photo credit: Brian Sweeney)