Exquisite, light as air, folksy choral excellence.
MG Boulter is a name well known amongst the select few, plucky Brit Americana artists. A trademark light as air voice and marshmallow-soft arrangements float through this suite of songs. Paul Simon-esque, which isn’t a word, is a word that springs to mind. ‘Clifftown’ is his story, constructed around the mixed blessing that is growing up in an English seaside town (Essex’s jewel – Southend – in MG Boulter’s case).
Boulter’s songs are exquisitely arranged. Lyrically they are poised and insightful, weaving the minutiae of everyday living into poetic verse, in the manner our finest folksy Americana artists excel in. So, don’t go expecting any bombast from Boulter. Though even those who like their roots music punchy and powerful would have to concede that this record is a thing of rare beauty.
Opening up with ‘Midnight Movies’, all fingerpicked guitar and celestial echo, Boulter lays out his needle-sharp detailed scenes expertly. ‘Soft White Belly’ has a full band in tow, but it’s a gentle ‘rock out’, with synthy theremin-esque sounds for an instrumental break. ‘Clifftown’, the title song, is pinpoint in its depiction of the inevitable exodus to the city, escaping the limited prospects of the small seaside town, or any small town, that is typical of Boulter’s generation.
Elsewhere ‘The Slow Decline’, with banjo and slide guitar, talks of the ones who stayed behind in ‘Clifftown’ and struggled to make things work for them. ‘Nightwork’ is anthemic in its portrayal of the good and bad of the after-hours lives in town. The mournful country fiddle and piano chords carry the woozy nocturnal waltz. ‘Pilate’ (of suburbia) closes the record, where Boulter sings of peace and reconciliation, acceptance of the seaside town life and (inevitably) the loss of love. Soundtracked with layered wobbly keys and that trademark finger picked acoustic.
This is a pearl of a record. The many delicate layers of instrumentation cosy around each other impeccably. It deserves to be heard far and wide.