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Steven Lindsay - Kite

Steven Lindsay, Kite

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

STEVEN Lindsay was once described by a music magazine as “possibly the greatest undiscovered songwriter in our midst”.

Originally trained at the Glasgow School Of Art and more Damien Hirst than Damien Rice, Lindsay never really intended to be a singer and musician.

He toyed with fame briefly in the 1990s with his band The Big Dish and albums like Creeping Up On Jesus and Satellites but it wasn’t until 2004 and his first solo release, Exit Music, that people began to sit up and take note.

Exit Music was adored by critics – The Daily Telegraph called it “a quiet, timeless masterpiece”, while the Guardian referred to it as “the kind of disc that could start its own cult”.

Kite, his eagerly anticipated follow-up, is a selection of 11 songs book-ended by two brief instrumentals that are designed to build on the success of Exit Music and maybe even reach a mainstream listener base.

It’s certainly got a good chance, if his cover version of The Pixies’ seminal Monkey Gone To Heaven is anything to go by.

Electronically based and built around a sombre piano score, Lindsay’s haunting delivery makes for a quietly mesmerising alternative version – proof positive that cover versions can be worth doing.

Pixies fans might have something to say about the lack of guitars but it’s an achingly poignant reinterpretation that makes you feel sad and uplifted at the same time.

The rest of the album, however, struggles to reach such great heights. At times, it soars. The opening and closing instrumentals are beautifully composed.

While second track Put Up The Flag is lush, breezy and genuinely easy to listen to. The guitar loops are entrancing and Lindsay’s vocals are well delivered.

The Flood is epic in a strangely quiet sort of way, embracing some mighty themes without the need to grandstand, while Catch A Star offers another highlight.

But just occasionally the album struggles to overcome the restrictions posed by Lindsay’s haunted vocal style, no matter how enchanting some of his instrumentals.

It’s this, more than anything, that prevents me from raving or hailing it as a classic. Fans of Exit Music will doubtless hail his return as something of a second coming. But as impressive as it is in places (and that Pixies cover in particular), I wasn’t completely taken with it.

Download picks: Put Up The Flag, Monkey Gone To Heaven, Catch A Star, Deep

Track listing:

  1. Hairshirt
  2. Put Up The Flag
  3. Skywriter
  4. Monkey Gone To Heaven
  5. Flood
  6. Kite
  7. Metropolis
  8. Catch A Star
  9. Deep
  10. Giving Up The Ghost
  11. Memory
  12. Light Sleep
  13. Motorcade