Angel Air 2018
Bidding farewell to world affairs and building a wall around his heart, British entertainer charts an isolate path from the past.
For all the larking Mutter Slater used to display back in STACKRIDGE days, his latter period seems to be marked with sadness. Yet if the veteran was eager to fight it, as 2016’s "The Champ" suggested, “Field Of Stone” is where he’s ready to surrender – or make a tactical retreat and stand his ground. This terrain can be despondently cold and, with a bluesy dirge and the beat which sounds like somebody’s driving nails in your coffin, the eerie titular epic is bound to instill fear in the strongest of hearts. When Slater is dispensing heavy truths and Chris Cleave is delivering mournful guitar lines, the sense of alienation is so strong that it’s impossible not to wonder whether those stones, once gathered, could become material for the impenetrable obstacle of “There’s A Wall” – a gloomily glimmering finale of a rather moody record.
This is why affairs of the heart may be the only remedy our here and now need, so even though “Something We Knew As Love” – a sax-smeared and organ-oiled slice of soul – is stricken with reminiscences about better times, it’s defiantly jubilant, as is the “Caroline Motion” whose punchy funk is bristling with brass – a pity Mutter’s flute doesn’t join the reeds’ ensemble on this album – only to announce another death wish. Still, his voice fills the languid, “against the wall” resignation of “Losing It” with mellifluous acceptance, and the equally lucid “Love Is The Stranger” turns the optimism of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” – Mutter’s reference point – into murky perspective. As a result, spiritual sway would only be logical for “Folding” to roll towards screaming abandon and to the quiet understanding of “Weird Kid” which should let some country-kissed sunshine in.
Not for nothing “You’re The Reason” is upbeat – and, having a reggae tinge, offbeat, too: if the ground is shaky, there’s a need for something solid to hold on to… so perhaps, the time has come to gather those stones and pave the road to future. That’s what Mutter Slater is trying to tell the world.