Golden hour nostalgia and reminiscences from Treetop Flyers offshoot, Albert.
‘Time Well Spent’ is the debut album from Albert, a duo comprising Reid Morrison and Laurie Sherman of London country-soul band Treetop Flyers. The seeds of the album were planted during the pandemic, when Morrison and Sherman embarked on a routine of weekly studio sessions to work on new ideas. The pair share an appreciation for classic artists such as Van Morrison and George Harrison, as well as contemporary artists such as Kevin Morby, Sylvie and Marina Allen. By melding such influences with an idiosyncratic blend of nostalgic country-soul, woozy psychedelic folk, and quietly buzzing synths, Albert have forged a mellifluous and slightly uncanny album which captures the strangeness of both the pandemic and post-pandemic eras. At turns, the album wafts like a warm breeze as the evening fades from burnt orange to indigo, then hums like heat rising up from the summer-softened tarmac of the city.
Opener ‘Mona’ is a melancholy yet mellow tale of failed love, bedecked with undulating keys and George Harrison-esque crying guitars. The lyrics are hazy, vague recollections, yet now and then a sharper moment of imagery shines out: “I remembered that day in the morning, in that Indian shirt that you look better in than me”. The mingling of warmth and sadness in the track sets the tone of the album.
Across the album, the concertinaed flow of time is explored in lines such as “life is strange, and it moves to its own drum” and “all I’ve ever known are mirrors and echoes we throw” from ‘Mona’. Life’s subtle strangeness is also hinted at sonically, with buzzing synths on tracks including ‘Mona’, ‘Wild Swimming’ and ‘Fireworks’ lending the dominant country-soul lent an uncanny edge. Overall, the combination renders the vignettes and memories recounted in the lyrics almost as a decaying film played out in the mind’s eye.
Highlight ‘Wild Swimming’ tells the tale of a post-lockdown trip to Oxford’s Port Meadow with friends. The song drifts along on in a psychedelic, folky haze, conjuring a British version of the atmospheres which suffuse the records of Stateside artists such as Hiss Golden Messenger and Israel Nash. Gentle yet intricate brushstrokes of acoustic guitar interlace with organ and floating synths beneath lyrics alluding to nostalgia, reunion and hope set against a rural backdrop: “Rolling back the days, love is on its way/ Memory lane in that Oxford sun”. The track closes out with rustic banjo as the distortion on the guitar increases and the vocals become less distinct, like the present fading into the past. Rural imagery crops up on several other tracks, including ‘Lay on Me’, with its mention of “birds flying over the marshes”, running water, golden light shady meadows and sweet sunshine. Opening with pretty Spanish guitar, the track touches on the recurring theme of failed love.
The guitars, piano and keyboards in the introduction of standout ‘I Don’t Want to Sing’ sound like they are conversing, much like the waning lovers alluded to in the lyrics, with the narrator desperately trying to cling on to a dying flame. On the stunning closer, ‘Golden Lie’, the two lovers appear to have given up on trying to save their relationship “Lay your head on my shoulder and drop that golden lie, one last time”. The track is a soulful ballad which opens like an Al Green classic, the refrain is replete with gliding la la las and a late key change ups the drama.
With ‘Time Well Spent’, Albert have delivered an album with feel – it evokes the comfort of good times, happy memories and the sadness that accompanies their inevitable fading into the past. The vocals are flawless, with a slight huskiness that perfectly suits the themes explored across the album. A very satisfying listen, perfect for summer evenings.