Longtime favourite Sid Hagan collaborates extensively with an equally gifted Marvin Taylor, for this beautiful, purposeful new EP of timeless originals Swamp Thang.
Having worked together for several years, this project marks the first release as separate in style and mood to a second that will emerge at a later date. Where the duo have produced as one before, a fully collaborative album has not since emerged, but after two years of isolation and stand still – the musicians finally gift us their debut, and it was more than worth the wait.
Immediately grabbing attention for the dreamy fusion of funky guitar and intensely retro synths, Promises Lost quickly sets the mood, and furthers this with hypnotic vocal layers that cascade and intertwine in a wholly immersive fashion. So ensues absolute escapism – the kind of soundtrack that lures you in more closely with every few bars of music.
As is the songwriting strength and humanity of all of Sid’s work, Promises Lost details his experiences of navigating the ‘minefield of lies and deceit’ that was the public schools and colleges process for his special needs sons. On considering this, re-listen to the song – that transcendence reaches an all the more mighty level that’s quite breathtaking.
Stylistically speaking, the balancing of synth-play and gritty electric guitar contrasts the simplicity and calm, the poetry of the lyrics, and keeps you embraced as a distant audience, from start to finish. What a way to kick things off.
Early on arrangement stands tall, as next we fall softly into the arms of When We Forget – mellow and acoustic, gently rhythmic, organic and again hypnotic in its rise and fall. The lyrics have personal weight but prove accessible as ever – another stunning quality of Sid’s writing. And the chorus is mighty – catchy, entrancing, dreamy once more and utterly provocative in its literal yet striking, intriguing imagery.
Switching things back up a few notches is the superb blues-rock anthem Doubtful (co-written by Marvin and his wife Raven, along with Let’s Get Real) – complete with its infectious mega-hook and sensational, passionate and positively addictive guitar solo.
We rise and we fall and we rise again, the waves of this five-track project engaging more boldly than most, and offering a natural go-to playlist that will easily stand the test of time.
Buddy’s Boogie injects a fresh edge of simple good vibes – the live crash of the drums, the meandering guitar – hi-hats and slick bends unite with an easy vocal repeat that quickly gets you involved.
Then there’s the soulful swagger of Let’s Get Real, pairing synth and string again for a memorable walk through the unjustified turmoil of life for people on the streets. Naturally a favourite, though it’s getting harder to choose from such a genuinely moving catalogue…
At the final hurdle, delicate acoustic picking fills the space with flickers of electric and distant, reverb-drenched phrasings that quietly set the pace. Writes Cards In Spanish is beautiful, almost Wicked Game-like in its sultry swagger, though something reaches out that’s far more profound and powerful, more broadly relevant, and it lingers with you when all is said and done.
This post-eight-minute track weaves its web immensely well as things evolve. We drift deeper into a state of complete calm yet uncertain contemplation, almost meditative, and peaceful for the most part – until the occasional artistic sinking of the guitar, recapturing that wandering mind; re-centering the listener. A slow-burning masterpiece of sorts, musically supreme and total dream to sit back and lose yourself amidst. Qualities which, in truth, ring loud throughout this divine collection.