Saint Saviour releases her new album ‘In The Seams’ on November 4th through Surface Area.
The new album marks a departure from her 2012 debut ‘Union’, an explicitly pop-oriented project that allowed Becky Jones to indulge in flights of fantasy and be, in her own words, “a caricature writer, writing about dream scenarios or characters”. Listening back to her first album she felt that something wasn’t right. “I over confused things with layers and layers of production,” she says, “I hid my songs under noise.” Writing the new record was an exercise in stripping back these layers and revealing the stunningly beautiful song-craft that lay beneath.
For the first time in an extremely busy career – she was previously lead singer with The RGBs, fronted and co-wrote the singles on Groove Armada’s Grammy nominated album ‘Black Light’ before going it alone as Saint Saviour – Jones set about writing about herself, her own experiences and emotions. The result is a selection of twelve delicate and heart-felt, folk-infused tracks woven together into ‘In The Seams’. “This album is all about me, my memories and my childhood,” she says. “It’s really honest and for that reason I wanted the songs to just be allowed to be natural. I didn’t want to trivialize that honesty.”
She describes her meeting with collaborator/producer Bill Ryder-Jones as “a real epiphany,” and cites their musical connection and appreciation of each other’s work as a driving force throughout the recording process and one unique to this time of her life and career. “It’s a nice feeling when we work together because we ‘get’ each other and I’ve never had that before”. The results were palpably visible at a recent performance at London’s Roundhouse where, backed by members of the celebrated Manchester Camerata Orchestra, who play on the album, and Ryder-Jones himself on guitar, Saint Saviour stunned a crowded room to silence with a live rendition of the new album in full.
Together the pair have sculpted lush, pastoral arrangements around Jones’ songs. At times recalling Vashti Bunyan or Anne Briggs in its folk simplicity, there’s also a distinct sense of the North – of a particular place, a particular attitude. Two Northerners drawn together, Saint Saviour and Ryder-Jones succeed in etching truly beautiful character studies.
Achingly beautiful and honest throughout, ‘In The Seams’ is introduced with a clear announcement of Saint Saviour’s new, personal approach with ‘Intro/Sorry’. Emerging from melancholic piano and string drones, a delicate yet defiant vocal emerges with the line “I’ve made considerable mistakes. Tried to be someone else”. It sets the tone for an intimate and revealing album by an artist who was has truly found who they are, and where they belong, with glorious results. What follows is an album that far exceeds her aim to make her songs “sound classic” and powerfully demonstrates a new outlook and situation in her life. “I kind of feel like I’m a different person now, a more mature songwriter.”
“Let It Go” is an invitation to embark on Saint Saviour’s new musical journey with her. The “Run away with me” refrain soars over immaculate production and full strings before a harp and delicate vocal harmonies soothe the way into ‘Intravenous’.
‘Sad Kid’ introduces Ryder-Jones’ unmistakable guitar style to beautifully illustrate the collaboration between the newfound musical soul-mates, teamed with a string arrangement reminiscent of ‘Paris 1919’-era John Cale. Their voices meld together again seamlessly on ‘I Remember’, which evokes a palpable nostalgia to school days and youthful loneliness. The staccato strings and rhyming of ‘Craster’ bring to life Becky’s memories of the craggy Northumbrian coastline, followed by Ryder-Jones’ charming acoustic plucking on the playful ‘Devotion’, firmly establishing this album among the esteemed cannon of quintessentially Northern folk balladry.
The lovelorn ‘A Word’ is the most stripped back song on ‘In The Seams’, with subtle brushes and acoustic guitar lying beneath the stunning piano and vocal combination that characterise the album. ‘James’ introduces the end of the album, offering hindsight-laden advice to a boy Jones recalls being bullied as a child before the album’s journey ends at the romantic serenade of ‘St. Malo’.
Having put aside her past and embraced a new outlook, a new approach and a new musical relationship to arrive at the new album, Saint Saviour says, “I see this as the beginning of the rest of my life.” This new beginning has been recorded and produced in stunning high-definition on ‘In The Seams’ – a remarkably honest, direct and poetic document of a unique moment in the life and career of a sublimely talented and beguiling artist.
Tracklisting: 1. Intro (Sorry), 2. Let It Go, 3. Intravenous, 4. Sad Kid, 5. Bang, 6. I Remember, 7. Nobody Died, 8. Craster, 9. Devotion, 10. A Word, 11. James, 12. St. Malo