Falling Sands – The Equatorial Group
The joy of reviewing records is discovering new music that you’d probably never otherwise get to hear. Likewise, you develop affinities for certain artists and groups as they develop and produce new material, and you get to witness that progress. One such bunch is The Equatorial Group – an eclectic combination of musicians from Eastbourne, who have just released their second full album.
‘Falling Sands’ is a follow up to ‘Apricity’. The new record feels like a huge step up. Polished, accomplished and yet that beautiful eclectic mix of before. Similar themes, but managed differently, all the while pitching for a definitive Equatorial Group sound.
Last time around I loved the word Apricity, an old word which means the softness of the sun in winter – that enigmatic winter glow that only happens this time of year. ‘Falling Sands’ is similar in some respects but there’s a clear sixties sound, at times, particularly in the track ‘Rancho’. I’m reminded a little of Al Stewart here. At other times, Jeff Wayne’s ‘War of the Worlds’ came to mind.
Even the album cover has a sixties theme, en famille, a hotel room by the sea, a hankering back to some childhood summer holiday. Everything seemed so much simpler then – now it’s the complexities of life, of therapy, relationship difficulty and the quest to figure things out.
Falling Sands flits from male to female voices, from the upbeat,up-tempo to the sad and reflective, like the turn of the tides, and shifting sands. Each of the ten tracks has a beautiful melodic intro. These sensitive and memorable introductions seem to be an Equatorial Group feature – whether steel guitar or finger plucked. The lyrics are often poetic and range from the feisty and sarcastic “big mouth, yellow belly” in the track ‘Big Mouth’, or “three in the bed and the little one said” and so on in ‘Oklahoma’, to “switchblade emotions” in ‘Only One’.
As in Apricity, the metaphor of a journey comes to the fore – in tracks like ‘Freight Train’ or ‘Catch Your Ride’, there’s also a persistent suggestion of turbulent inner dialogue, male to female, female to male.
A lovely upbeat optimism shines through in ‘Catch Your Ride’ (“it’ll be your time this year”) – a perfect track for new year’s resolutions and airplay. Regrets, or not, this might just be my favourite. It’s hard to choose frankly.
There are several stand out tracks in Falling Sands – from ‘Cups’, with its gorgeous introduction, or ‘Oh Smile’. It’s so hard to choose, however I particularly liked the reggae beat in ‘Let This Lie’.
‘Falling Sands’ is taking the Equatorial Group up a level – a maturing of the finest ingredients and raw material to begin with; a smarter sibling for ‘Apricity’ – ‘Falling Sands’ is another gentle, intelligent, poetic album well worth getting to know.
Out now on Bandcamp and download and steaming services.