Felix Saunders “I Guess This is Progress”

Independent, 2021

Felix Saunders’ debut EP is an unmissable highland mountain.

Felix Saunders is a Scottish singer-songwriter who has exploded onto the scene like an exhalation of smoke into the wet highland air. The EP description is two lines, one of which is this gem: “it’s the sum of my mental health, failed relationships, trying to survive on jobs that barely pay you and feeling isolated from the world“. Wow. Saunders is the kind of artist that lays it on the line honestly without worrying about slickness. Now, honesty is all well and good, but what is really great is the music.

A simple description would compare his misery-tinged lyrics and accent to Arab Strap or Roddy Woomble. The darkness and wet of the highlands is as far from dusty cowboy trails as it can get but the essence of Americana is there in the “three chords and the truth”. Saunders had a single out in 2019 ‘This Old Town‘, which drew attention and its feedback from its radio play did well enough for him to keep playing and we at Americana UK are glad he did.

The opening track ‘Hope and Faith‘ is soft and pleasingly wistful without being trite. ‘I Guess This is Progress‘ was recorded in Black Bay Studios in the Outer Hebrides who boast an incredible list of creative clients and unsurprisingly the production is flawless. Mother Night joins Saunders with backing vocals on ‘King of Nothing’. Her sweet tones are the counterpoint to the gruffness of Saunders raspy larynx. This song was released as a single just weeks before the release of the full EP and what a teaser!

Saunders is then joined on ‘Sinking Fast‘ by Pete Fletcher, who produced the EP, on keyboards and guitars. It evokes the sound of someone singing to an empty Butlins out of season; It’s stark and sad but beautiful. ‘Something Waltz’ adds a mandolin to the already gentle sound and lyrics like “I’m an impossible cynic dreaming with regret, take your time with me” create the effect of an acceptable lullaby for even the hardest denim-clad Scot.

Its a collection of songs that if you heard strummed in an overlit, still-carpeted pub you would shed a tear into your beer, but ultimately you’d feel hopeful after.


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