mon 19/04/2021

CD: Paul Buchanan - Mid Air | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Paul Buchanan - Mid Air

CD: Paul Buchanan - Mid Air

The voice of the Blue Nile returns with an album of simple but devastating beauty

'Mid Air': an emotional landslide

In the eight years since the fourth – and very possibly last - Blue Nile album, High, Paul Buchanan has seen his band disintegrate and a close friend die. Little wonder, then, that his solo debut is a reflective record. The most cinematic of bands, the Blue Nile's ravishing sound-pictures generally came in widescreen; Mid Air may be a more intimate, art house affair, but it is no less affecting.

In the eight years since the fourth – and very possibly last - Blue Nile album, High, Paul Buchanan has seen his band disintegrate and a close friend die. Little wonder, then, that his solo debut is a reflective record. The most cinematic of bands, the Blue Nile's ravishing sound-pictures generally came in widescreen; Mid Air may be a more intimate, art house affair, but it is no less affecting.

Mostly recorded in Buchanan’s Glasgow flat over the course of a couple of years, there's not much to it: 14 songs, as beautiful as they are brief, consisting of soft piano, the occasional daub of synthetic textural colour, and that masterful voice, weary yet still full of wonder. Reference points - both sonic and emotional - would include Sinatra’s late night suicide-suites of the 1950s and Blue Nile songs like “Easter Parade” and “Family Life”.

Mid Air is muted midnight music, yet it still manages to freeze-frame those moments of fleeting euphoria which elevate reality to something sublime. On “Half a World”, a tender lullaby for every insomniac burning through the wee small hours, Buchanan has “starlight in my suitcase”. On “My True Country” he returns to that independent dream country, that unashamedly romantic separatist state founded on the first Blue Nile album, to find himself “high above the chimney tops”. Back on the ground, Wedding Party is an emotional landslide, a concise and devastating portrait of a life-moment most of us will recognise: “Tear stains on your pillow / I was drunk when I danced with the bride”.

If it all sounds a bit heavy, a bit too much like hard work, it’s not. Mid Air isn't content to be simply blue and beautiful. There is real joy here, and a rather heroic attempt to embrace life in all its colours and complexities. When the album ends with the moonstruck "After Dark" you search for some other music to fill the void; almost all of it sounds brash, superficial and all but superfluous by comparison

Watch the video for "Mid Air"

It manages to freeze-frame those moments of fleeting euphoria which elevate reality to something sublime

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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