Andy Gordon‘s follow up to 2013’s The Reverent Jorfy (see ‘Breelong Black’ here)  is a dark and calmly stormy affair. Whereas Jorfy dealt with dark historical themes but in a life affirming way – ebullient and country sweet, with the humanity of Gordon’s  voice and story-telling delivery pulling you into each song – Black Sea is deeper,  a glistening swirl of indigo waters that reflects another side of humanity: that of disillusionment, existential questions and the encroaching night…

The five originals here (Black Sea also contains a tightly wound cover of Dire Straits‘ ‘Six Blade Knife’) grew from the ethos of “write the song in the morning and have it completely recorded by dinner time.”

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This work-around adds a fresh simplicity to the songs – plus it helps to have the remarkable enabler Syd Green writing and recording with Andy. Anything Green touches has a ‘finished’ aura to it – it is entirely satisfying on all levels: especially the emotive and the spiritual. Gordon and Green make Black Sea look (sound) easy, but it is a distillation of two effortless talents casting their fates to the wind and seeing what blows back.

What has blown back on this album has cold sea salt on its breath – Black Sea has an overarching feeling of the deep dark ocean about it. Not the friendly ocean off Manly but that other ocean, the ocean deeps of our souls – “how many times can i watch the sea roll in? all of the suns, all of the moons, until one of us dies”.

On ‘Rollin’ Sea’ Gordon asks “How many times can I go to Heaven…?” and you just know the next line will conjure Hell. A song from Paris, ‘Amandaline’ is written about a vision Gordon had of a 19th century poet’s muse drifting beneath the surface of the Seine. Cold water, night reflections, loss, detachment.gordon2

The closer, ‘New York’, is pummelled along by Green’s nagging shuffle – a tom-tom shuffle as insistent as that über-city’s pugnacious pressure. It is Gordon’s love song to NYC’s details, architecture and grit, but like all else here, it has a shade of doubt dappling the sunlight of childlike wonder (vis a vis Tanya Bowra‘s repeated background whisper “Save yourself, save yourself”).

Black Sea is a gem – in fact six dark little gems in a row, with teeth that sparkle dark in the watery night. Gordon mentions money (the eternal and rasping yoke of the truly indie artist) maybe once too often in the Press Release that accompanied my copy, but as hard as it may be for you, Andy, you have given us a gift.

 

Published March 2014 on theorangepress.net

 

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