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Findlay Brown - Separated By The Sea

Findlay Brown, Separated By The Sea

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

FINDLAY Brown shares labels with another guitar-based “sensitive” singer-songwriter, Jose Gonzalez, and is similarly hotly-anticipated as an artist in his own right.

His music draws instant comparisons with the likes of Simon & Garfunkel, Nick Drake, The Beatles and Tim Buckley. And one of his songs, Come Home, is currently winning him more awareness thanks to the current Mastercard advertising campaign.

But is he any good? The answer is yes. After a slow start, his debut album Separated By The Sea provides quite an enchanting listen – one that’s steeped in classic songwriting values and which shifts comfortably between the psychedelic experiments of The Beatles, to the quiet, folksy introspection of Drake and co.

It’s a quietly affecting listen that rewards the patient ear. Come Home is the most instantly recognisable track, emerging as a slow, tender, country-tinged tale of reflection and longing that quietly drifts into your subconscious. Brown’s yearning vocals are tragic without being over-milked and his sense of longing is easy to identify with.

Crucially, however, it’s not the standout track. Down Among The Dead Men is one of several highlights – a folksy effort that’s built around a stronger beat and some excellent guitar work. Vocally, there’s traces of Johnny Cash mixed with Nick Drake – and the lyrics are strong and laden with stark imagery.

Title track Separated By The Sea should enchant anyone that was captivated by Gonzalez’s Heartbeats, the hush-hush vocal style sitting comfortably alongside the chilled acoustic guitar licks.

While there’s a John Denver/Carpenters sensibility to Loneliness I Fear, one of the most achingly fragile records you’re likely to hear in a while.

Paperman draws on Art Garfunkel for inspiration and is another enchanting moment, while it’s the turn of The Beatles on the sitar and banjo-laden seven-minute opus Don’t You Know I Love You, the firm favourite.

It’s the point at which the album somewhat belatedly opens up and really finds its feet, suggesting that Brown has really come of age. The song is steeped in classic qualities and is so intricately layered that you’ll want to listen to it over and over again.

The inspiration for the album came from Brown’s tempestuous relationship with his long-term Danish girlfriend Marie Nielsen. By his own admission, the artist – a former part-time bare-knuckle boxer in his Yorkshire youth – started writing songs to finally win her back after becoming conscious of being “a total nob”.

He subsequently dispatched the songs to Denmark in CD cases packed with dried flowers. You can see why they had such a big effect on Miss Nielsen – for those same recordings are likely to win over just as many listeners now that they’ve found a broader market.

It seems being “a total nob” is acceptable if you can learn from it and go on to better things. Brown clearly did and his album is an unexpected gem for the start of the year.

Track listing:

  1. I Will (Ghost Ship)
  2. But You Love Me
  3. Down Among The Dead Men
  4. Separated By The Sea
  5. Loneliness I Fear
  6. Come Home
  7. Losing The Will To Survive
  8. Paperman
  9. Tonight Won’t Wait
  10. Don’t You Know I Love You
  11. Twin Green Pram