The debut solo record from Martin Callingham is a wonderfully intriguing and elegant opening statement – hopefully, a lengthy career beckons
onight, We All Swim Free is the debut solo album from former Joyce The Librarian frontman Martin Callingham. Recorded at Toybox Studios in his hometown of Bristol, and co-produced by Ali Chant, the record is a charmingly mysterious affair which manages to feel complete despite its short running time.
The beautiful instrumental Rhosgoch opens the album, with guitar and strings briefly introducing themselves to one another, before cracking on with the matter at hand. Knots then sets the tone for the rest of the album – elegant folk music with lyrics, such as opening line “Snug in the arms of a crushing calm”, which leave you curious. Callingham’s softly hushed vocals are perfectly balanced by the crisp production and intricate guitar playing.
Throughout the album, friends (old and new) are at hand. Gareth Bonello lends guitar and vocals on the slightly bluesy, and incredibly catchy, Build Us A Path. Sas Payne’s flute lifts Folding out of its reflective gloom and the bowed strings of Anna Kissell and Anna Strudwick help to create a mood reminiscent of Bryter Later era Nick Drake. Though a solo record, this is very much an ensemble affair.
Listening to Tonight, We All Swim Free will leave you with a feeling akin to that of discovering an old trinket in the back of a wardrobe. At first curious and slightly unfamiliar, the more you hold it in your hand the more it feels like something you’ve always known, something that needs to be played with, again and again.
Verdict: A majestic debut