Falling Down A Mountain
Falling Down A Mountain came together in two studios (Staples’ own Le Chien Chanceux in France and ICP in Belgium) over three summer months in 2009. Very much a group effort, the recordings were built from a foundation of Staples (guitar, voice) and Boulter (keyboards) along with fellow original band member Neil Fraser (guitar), long time collaborator Terry Edwards (trumpet) and more recent recruits Dan McKinna (bass) and Andy Nice (cello) – all of who appeared on The Hungry Saw. Aided by the new ideas of fresh additions Earl Harvin (drums, vocals) and David Kitt (guitar, vocals) and a rare guest vocal appearance by Mary Margaret O’Hara on “Peanuts”, Falling Down A Mountain reveals a newly colorful, textured, dynamic and at times even exuberant musical personality for the band. Of course, the album remains tinged by the band’s unique brand of ‘Northern Soul’ and anchored by Staples’ inimitably intimate, deadpan voice.
Title track “Falling Down A Mountain” works a spacious 15/8 groove with atmospheric guitars and Edwards’ trumpet setting a swirling tension off the top, giving way to overlapping vocal lines around which the tune slowly coalesces – a gorgeously loose and supple way to kick off the record, and a wonderful update on the ‘bubbling cauldron’ approach to sonics that marked some of Tindersticks’ most compelling earlier work. The lilting ballad “Keep You Beautiful” and the snappy, hand-clapping “Harmony Around My Table” follow, signaling the dynamic/stylistic range for the album as a whole. Dan McKinna’s widescreen instrumental composition “Hubbard’s Hills” and the gritty rave-up “Black Smoke” broaden the album’s diversity and further demonstrate the band’s versatility. At the same time these many moods effortlessly cohere around the group’s consistent sonic identity. The overall result is a magnificent updating of and addition to the Tindersticks canon.