Label: Borealis Records
Album: The Promise of Strangers
It’s been four years since their last album, and the new album by the band led by Brendan McLeod, an acclaimed novelist and Adrian Glynn, an actor and poet is very welcome. Creative and lyrical ability obviously runs strong in the DNA of this pair, proof of this very evident in ‘No Words’, the very first song of the album. This track is dedicated to Leonard Cohen, and is a beautifully constructed acoustic gem with the line ‘I never knew a stranger who hurt my heart better’. A simple beat backs the storytelling, but as the music builds to a surprise pause, it suddenly erupts in a full-on acapella session with a choir named the ‘Awesome Strangers Gospel Choir’. Powerful stuff indeed.
The concept behind the album is that each track is dedicated to someone or something. The second track ‘See This Winter Out’ is a lively, but poignant song for a friend Amy who has cancer. A piano led track follows, with very fine vocal work in as song dedicated to a Sarah Manning. A very original song ‘London in the Sixties’ is about just that, ‘I had a waistcoat and Italian shoes, ah, the English are the kings of dressing down the blues’ are some of the lyrics of an enjoyable musical romp through a very specific time in English culture. Clever stuff indeed.
The victims of the shooting tragedy in Orlando , June 2016 have a song of the same title dedicated to them. It’s a beautifully written and performed track, and really shows the level of talent possessed by the Fugitives. It’s little wonder that they have appeared at a top line festival such as Glastonbury and toured with Buffy Sainte-Marie.
Right up to the final song ‘Lights Out’, the standard of fine lyrical writing and musical performance is consistent. The Promise of Strangers is a very fine album that is enjoyable as good solid foot tapping listening, and also an album that merits careful listening to some fine lyrical storytelling and the promise that this band must be great to see live. And are they? According to a Vancouver newspaper ‘The Fugitives bring enough energy to the stage to light up a small city, the quartet conjures up a sound that’s like the missing link between Leonard Cohen and The Pogues” Terrific stuff indeed!