David C Clements – The Longest Day In History
Label: Old Fang Records
Release Date: 19th February 2016
It’s been in the offing for a while but after what feels like the longest wait in history, we finally have a debut LP from Northern Irish songwriter David C Clements. Often hailed by the likes of Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody, Clements has been honing his craft on stage and in the studio for years and it shows.
Opener ‘Hollywood’ has the storytelling chops of Springsteen’s ‘Nebraska’ era work but with a much more personal narrative. A bundle of emotion dealing with the trials and tribulations of faith, the little sung about tough side of it all, the side that Contemporary Christian Music would rarely touch.
‘The Longest Day In History’ is far from a Gospel record though. ‘I’m Still Alive’ sounds every inch the radio-friendly single. There’s a hint of Duke Special in the soaring chorus melody with the Northern Irish tones not hidden or Americanised. All this layered over a Death Cab backbeat and a real belief that the “whoah-oh” refrain could fill a stadium near you someday soon.
Those who have been to live shows over the last couple of years will recognise tracks like ‘In December’, ‘Oh Child’ and ‘My Dear Mother’. Songs that have grown into themselves, rehearsed in the live environment, tried and tested until at the point they’re ready for release.
‘Afraid of the City’ could easily be the counterfoil to the aforementioned Lightbody’s ‘Take Back The City’. Simplistic in it’s musicianship, it allows the soaring melodies to raise the downbeat lyrics somewhere else. There are touches of The National and a whole heap of ‘Funeral’ era Arcade Fire and you can’t really be praised more highly on a debut long player than that.
If you’re going to wrap up an album like this, you’re going to need a ‘Hurricane’. It’s long been a set closer and it’s a majestic piece of musicianship. Think Ryan Adams delivering Springsteen and you’re close. As the crescendo builds up to the refrain, echoing the album title it sounds like Winter bursting into Spring. It sounds like Northern Ireland might just be ready to send forth her newest poet into the world.
Clements admits the writing process was frustrating but these are songs written when they needed to be written. Many artists could learn a thing or two about not rushing out a record to fulfil label whims. This piece, produced by Michael Keeney – former credits include Foy Vance, Duke Special and SOAK – shows the craft and guile of the writer and the experience and influence of an in-form producer.
“I wish I lived in Hollywood or anywhere else in California” sings Clements on the record’s opener. For now, we’re glad he’s sticking with the pride and paradoxes that come with a life growing up in Northern Ireland and that shape the artists from her shores.
You can pre-order ‘The Longest Day In History’ now and we recommend getting that limited 12” vinyl available on Bandcamp.