Robin Elliott “There Is A Land”

Textbook Records, 2023

Well-produced, eclectic debut capturing the ebbs and flows of life.

Robin Elliott hails from Merseyside but is currently based in London. Having released three EPs, ‘There Is A Land’ marks his debut full-length recording. It commences with ‘Another Country‘, which is a wistful song about long-distance relationships. ‘The Classics’ starts with Elliott’s late father testing a Dictaphone many years ago. It’s a song that looks to the past, ‘No-one makes them like they used to, Those days are over’, but also alludes to the speeding up of time as we grow older, ‘The sun is growing and we double our speed again’.

William V’ is a song that’s been released in an acoustic form on one of Elliott’s previous EPs. It’s an excellent piece of social commentary. It’s tale of a boy who was torn from his dead mother’s womb, and ends up with foster parents on the Broadwater Farm estate in North London. Following the riots on the estate in 1985 he’s sent to a care home. The song fast forwards to the future when his ‘namesake is proudly crowned king’ and William finds himself alone in a doorway. The song benefits from a full band sound, including a swirling organ, compared to the solo version Elliott put out in 2017.

Southport At Night’ is an eight-minute epic with Elliott reflecting on his youth. It is a beautifully put together narrative filled with ‘embarrassing dancing’ and  ‘drunken streets in a blur of streetlights’. It’s song that forms the centrepiece of the album, dividing it into two halves. ‘Traveller’, which follows it, is a slightly jazzy number. ‘Nowhere In Particular’ also starts with a jazz beat before adopting a more indie sound. It sums up a trek around an urban area well, until Elliott finds himself on the motorway for a ‘little ride’, returning home to tell his loved one that he’s been ‘nowhere in particular’.

The title track, ‘There Is A Land’, commences with some sparkling guitar. Elliot describes it as “a bit like something from a fable or fairy tale, with a naivety to it, but almost like a naivety that’s on the cusp of realising that it’s naïve”. ‘Is The Sun Shining’ appropriately has a lead guitar line that sounds like it’s been influenced by southern African, it could almost be an outtake from Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’. ‘Mute The Button’ ends the album. The song’s underlain by an understated analogue synth line and some beautiful backing vocals. It features some interesting characters, one of whom ‘Pictures himself as a young Bo Diddley, But he’s the spit of an elderly Johnny Borrell, Struggling to wrangle on those skinny, skinny jeans in a sad Sam Cooke motel’. It is a beautiful way to end a very fine album.

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