Brighton Magazine

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Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Tuesday 23 June 2020

Fair Mothers Unleash A Dark Swirling Tale Of Brutal Self-Honesty Dressed Up In A Garish Fairground Hypnotic Soundscape

The ominous, fuzzed-out tone of a single guitar note. A foreboding piano line. Esther Swift's haunting, intricate harp. All of these combine to devastating effect on Harpy, a dark, swirling tale about facing up to what you've become with unflinching honesty, and the first single taken from Stonehaven musician Fair Mothers' new album. In Monochrome.

"I'm just trying to see the state of me," says Fair Mothers, aka Kevin Allan, of the song's autobiographical nature. 

Featuring cello from acclaimed Scottish composer-arranger Pete Harvey and guest vocals by Glasgow-based US artist Faith Eliott, it's an intense listen that quickly disintegrates, leaving Swift's elegant harp work centre stage.

There's a restless, garish fairground quality to the song. A sense of defiance too. 

"So old man in the mirror / What you got left?" Allan asks, a sentiment that fits perfectly with In Monochrome's themes of family, love, and maintaining those relationships which mean the most to us.

The accompanying video, directed by Scottish BAFTA-winning filmmaker and musician Adam Stafford, is equally as stark and dramatic. 

Drained of all false colour, shot in black and white in the countryside of Ayrshire, it depicts a mysterious stranger and a violent killing that, much like the song, poses as many questions as answers. 

"Adam initially had in mind an Nosferatu Vampire, self-medicating with 'magic bullets' (pills) each morning as he tries to see himself in his bathroom mirror," says Allan. 

"This turned into a murderous road trip, which Adam inferred from the lyrics. 

"It was his translation completely; I had to go back to the song to see how he had done it, and it was there."

It's the perfect appetiser for the brooding variety inside In Monochrome, the follow up to February's Separate Lives and the culmination of a series of sessions at Edinburgh's Happiness Hotel studio with producer and Song, By Toad label boss Matthew Young

"Most of my songs need another voice – a woman's voice – and I'm incredibly grateful to have worked with Katheryn Joseph in the past, and now with Dana and especially with Faith," says Allan of his approach to working with others. 

And while Separate Lives exposed a sense of deep isolation, In Monochrome reflects the search for a way out, for those connections that bring true technicolour and a range of feeling; good and bad and everything in between. 

"I have such a strong sense that it's getting very late for us, or maybe just getting late for me," adds Allan. 

"And that it has to start with knowing myself. Because it's principally me that's lying to me. Christ knows why that is."

The closing chapter of two years of work, it's Allan's richest, most emotionally resonant collection of songs yet. 

And while self-deprecation runs deep, he's answered Harpy's protagonist eloquently – he has plenty left, and a unique, heart wrenching way of saying it.

Released in August 2020 via Song, By Toad, 'In Monochrome' is preceded by 'Harpy', which is out now. CLICK HERE for more details.  

by: Mike Cobley


Brighton's music venues are joining forces to programme a series of live gigs to support and protect the city's vibrant music scene.
Credit Mundialphoto

Brighton Fringe's Autumn Season officially launches today, 1st October 2020, with more than fifty events taking place in a COVID-safe way at venues across the city as well as online.

When the Circus of Horrors started in Glastonbury '95 people thought it would run for 25 weeks let alone 25 years, yet here we are a quarter of a century later and the Circus of Horrors is still touring globally.

Brighton-based Carlene Jackson saw the potential of cloud technology early and went on to build a thriving consultancy business with twenty staff. Below she talks about partnering with Microsoft, staff and apprenticeships and how a 'learning difficulty' has made her a better entrepreneur. 

Green councillors joined Brighton residents in Hanover and Elm Grove to create a 'pop-up parklet', a temporary mini-outdoor space with chairs, cushions, a rug, plants and decorations. 

Towner International - Eastbourne's Towner's inaugural contemporary art biennial - hopes to address how artistic communities are recording and responding to the economic, political, cultural, and environmental changes that are unfolding across the world today. 

Two Brighton-born digital companies are celebrating a joint nomination for a national award in recognition of their pioneering support for local loneliness charity, TogetherCo during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Environmental activists placed more than two-hundred pairs of shoes outside Hove Town Hall to symbolise the numbers killed or seriously injured every year in Brighton by air pollution and road traffic accidents.

A community charity campaign, launched last month to support Sussex charities, not-for-profit groups and services that have felt the devastating financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, received an incredible response from the public who nominated local charities and then voted for the winner.

Paloma Faith wrote most of the songs for her forthcoming fifth album, Infinite Things, before the Covid-19 pandemic swept the world. Then the world went into lockdown, and she ripped them all up and started afresh. 

Death was a subject that had long fascinated Tunng's Sam Genders; a preoccupation not born out of the macabre so much as a curiosity about the fundamental purpose of existence — but also a hesitancy he had noticed around others' grief; a wish to be supportive in the right way, to say the right thing in the face of loss. 

Around one hundred mums, dads, kids and grandparents took part in the colourful family-friendly “bike swarm”, which began at The Level before progressing down the Old Steine, along Madeira Drive, then west to the West Pier.
Credit Magnus Andersen

Rising Icelandic singer-songwriter and one-time Brighton resident, Axel Flóvent, calls Reykjavík home, but also the inspiration behind his upcoming full-length debut, You Stay By The Sea
Credit Pooneh Ghana

Having used the internet as their playground in pioneering ways for the last six months, Glass Animals have decided to reimagine their live show to create a one-time-only virtual gig/experience. 

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