Jason Swinscoe, the man behind The Cinematic Orchestra, has never been one to serve up cheerful tunes, but his sombre mood has plummeted to new depths on this recording. Ma Fleur‘s a soundtrack to an unmade film, but if it were ever shot, it’d no doubt be a tragedy. There’s no denying that this is a beguiling and beautifully crafted album, but whether you’ll actually love it will depend on your frame of mind, for it is unremittingly melancholic — and not in some faux, chilled-out manner, either. No, these songs convey genuine sadness. The vulnerability of Fontella Bass’ voice on Family Ground could bring some to tears, such is her fragility. The Jeff Buckley-ish To Build A Home is another moving high (or is that low?) point in a CD that may frustrate fans expecting the rolling rhythms that characterised Swinscoe’s previous material. Then again, a new audience might be drawn to an album that’s so out of step with these hedonistic times. It’s unapologetically introspective and painfully honest — a departure that will perversely bring a smile to some.
[one_half]Cinematic Orchestra’s To Build A Home (featuring Patrick Watson)