Hell may well be other people but Hull is real people.
Forget, for a moment, that Philip Larkin was, initially, dismissive and even cruel about the town after he arrived in the 1950’s, what is important is how the city soon began to work a strange magic on this rather dour man. He came to adore the lack of pretence, the absence of “crap” around compared to London and in his hymn to the place, “Here”, he wrote that it was a “surprise of a town”. At one point he also described Hull as his “lonely Northern daughter”.
Only a place like that could produce a band like Pavey Ark.
The cluttered streets of London with its “crap” and pretentious “hipster than thou” attitude couldn’t provide the sort of soil from which such a surprise of a band could spring forth. This is band for lonely Northern and Southern sons and daughters. Music of such delicate grace and wonder filled heart that it could only come from a place of honesty and struggle.
Led by singer/songwriter Neil Thomas and formed in 2016 they are now set to release their debut album. Ahead of that two tracks have been allowed to find their way in the world. “Wallflowers” is a wonderful introduction to the sort of melody making majesty that has seen their experimental folk attract a following and the attention of Chris Hawkins at 6 Music. The song is, according to Thomas, about “…being pulled along through life – letting circumstances and situations happen to you rather than seeking them out.”
There is a line in the Dexys Midnight Runners track “Let’s Make This Precious” that says “No not those guitars, they’re too noisy and crude.” Listening to “Wallflowers” you are given near silent and profoundly beautiful music, nothing too noisy or crude here. Music for the heart played by people with a soul.
“Cuckoo”, which will also feature on the album, is a burst of sunlight after a dark night. Fittingly the song came to Thomas in a dream. Shortly after the inauguration of the forty-fifth President of the United States he found himself being presented with a song as he slept;
“In the dream I was floating over a map of the US looking down on a lake and a place called Cuckoo. In the background the chorus to the song was playing in my head. The phenomenon of writing in a dream has only happened to me 4 or 5 times. It’s amazing when it does happen, but they haven’t always evolved into finished songs. As I got out of bed and grabbed my guitar at about 4am, I knew this one was a definite keeper.”
At it’s heart it is actually a positive song, as it’s about meeting someone on the same wavelength as you, who can see through the painted picture to the reality behind. A shared longing to escape and leave the city woes far behind.” In part two of the song the tempo shifts down a gear into a lazy swagger. “‘Truth blind, tongue-tied, we’re waiting. Held back or fast tracked, we’re waiting’. It’s a reminder that we are all in the same boat. Drifting through the ‘deep… black… wild… calm…’ on the same tiny rock. Powerful and wealthy or the polar opposite, we are all the same… we’re all just playing for time.”
We are all in the same boat.
They should print that on a t-shirt.
We should print it on our souls.
The waters can be deep…black…wild…calm…but we are all cast adrift together.
Sometimes a band, or even a song, arrives and does something more than just make your foot tap. Sometimes that band, those songs, take up residency somewhere deep inside and make you glad of their presence. Uninvited guests that you never want to leave.
That’s Pavey Ark.
You didn’t even know you needed them until you hear them and then you can’t imagine ever being without them.
In a world that is so noisy and crude be thankful for something this beautiful.
“Close Your Eyes and Think of Nothing” is released on March 20th 2020 and you can download “Cuckoo” from the bandcamp page.
Pavey Ark will be playing live on the following dates…
March 31st – Sheffield, The Greystones
April 13th – Leeds, Oporto
April 17th – London, Green Note
May 18th – Uttoxeter, The Acoustic Festival of Britain
June 20th – Lincolnshire, Cabourne Folk & Blues Festival
August 15th – Hampshire, Boomtown Fair