British fantasy-chaser embraces pastoral anxiety and infuses oxymorons with levity and other forces of life.
Back in the ’80s, Steve Somerset worked as part of Godley & Creme’s video production company company, and their 10CC-sensibility clearly rubbed off on him – as did living close to Ealing’s Haven Green park, so when the English artist emerged on the music scene as THE SHADOW KABINET, these influences showed. However, with three quasi-ensemble’s albums in the multi-instrumentalist’s discography, he reinvented his method, and decided to start afresh, shaping “To Whom It May Concern” as THE HAVEN GREEN’s debut. And it was worth the change, for the platter’s concept is enchanting.
First revealing itself before the listener with a poetry recital that floats into focus over a glimmering background, the album doesn’t take long to spring to action with “Journey To The Stars” – on a jolly mélange of jangly guitars and delicately sweeping strings which are wrapped around Somerset’s soft voice – before the funereal psychedelia of “Remember” creeps towards the tight twang to try and frighten, if only for a lark, the faint-hearted. Yet there’s “Will They Ever Learn?” to offer an even more groovy gloom and give the drift a pop-scented surface, full of vocal harmonies and shoegaze sheen, and “God Doesn’t Know” to drench the flow in sweet fatigue, or even despair, as the number’s wailing lines reach for Brian Wilson’s cabin fever and fall short of embracing the grace.
As a logical result, the words and music of “Lonely City” marry ’60s innocence to contemporary cynicism to the accompaniment of insistent strum and nostalgic tinkling – shifting from under the piece’s calypso-spiced shadow to land on raga and bring forth the flamenco-flavored “Don’t Worry About Tomorrow” whose retrofuturistic figures emphasize the flexibility of the singer’s pipes. And though the folk-inspired “If You Could See” seems plaintive, its acoustic lace and cinematic arrangement are guaranteed to grip one’s soul – and then return to spoken-word stanzas, stressing the record’s conceptual frame – whereas the nigh on hymnal “Just Around The Corner” channels a warm hope through its pseudo-orchestral veins.
So while “To Whom It May Concern” feels otherworldly sometimes, it’s very relatable – it’s a trip everyone should embark on.