One of the more welcome musical trends of the past couple of years has been the return of the album. Long-playing records where every song works with and enhances the others, rather than just being a collection of vaguely related tracks. Just a few examples are Modern Studies’ ‘Swell To Great’, Ette’s ‘Baby Lemonade’, Louise Bichan’s ‘Out Of My Own Light’, Washington Irving’s ‘August 1914’ and The Great Albatross’s ‘Asleep In The Kaatskills’, and to those you can now add Siobhan Wilson’s ‘There Are No Saints’, an album so personal, poignant and simply beautiful that it’s not just a pleasure to listen to these songs, it feels like a privilege.
Showing admirable restraint in terms of production, it’s an album that allows Wilson’s songs and vocals to be at the fore. The short opening title track sets the tone. It’s a simple yet intricate mix of piano and multiple harmonies which is over far too soon, but as it then moves into ‘Whatever Helps’, one of the best singles of the year so far, you soon forget that. ‘Whatever Helps’ has echoes of American songwriters of the ‘90s, such as Kristin Hersh, Aimee Mann and, particularly the god-like Liz Phair. The low-key grunge guitar and Wilson’s voice work together effortlessly to tell the tale of someone who is having difficulty moving on, and finding that the songs they listen to and books they read offer cold comfort, but comfort nonetheless. It’s all part of the process.