For the last twenty years lain Clarke has been active in the Yorkshire music scene. His latest effort is a DIY effort called Uneven Slices of Sky. His music sounds broad in a number of ways but falls under the category of pop/rock and if anything sounds more aligned with songs from the early ‘90s and ‘80s.
To be blunt the production and recording quality isn’t great. Uneven Slices Of Sky is a demo quality type release and the biggest issue throughout the album is that the vocals do not blend into the music. The vocals often sit on top on the music.
As far as the songwriting goes it's varied from song to song. It did take me a couple of listens to appreciate some of the songs and I can’t say there were any that upon first listen I thought were really catchy to the point where I wanted to immediately listen again.
The album kicks off with “Wake Up And Believe!” which reminded me of a song you might hear during a montage scene in a the ‘80s where the protagonist is getter better at whatever he or she is doing. Rocky and Karate Kid come to mind. Clarke’s lyrics reflect the energy and title of the song. He sings, “Don’t take the path that leads from your road, You gotta find your own way; Take or leave, sink or swim, fight or flight, love or anguish.” On the next track “Science and Religion” features Gemma Jarrett on vocals. The lyrics revolve around faith, free will and religion but also seem to contradict the very ideas, which are being stated.
She sings about an unexplainable force that lurks in the background. It also seems to control her actions. She sings, “I can’t control my actions, thinking, feelings anymore, My movements aren’t my own, they make themselves.” The lyrics imply that the force she claims is there cannot be proved through technology, science or religion. She sings, “I don’t know what any of this means, But technology and faith they hold no key Whatever it is that takes control of me Is what science and religion just don’t see.” If you believe an external force is guiding your hand and cannot be explained through the conjecture of science wouldn't that be called “God” which is the basic premise of religion?
Some of the songs work better than others. “Holding On” benefits from vocal harmonies from Lain and Jarrett, which reminded me of 10,000 Maniacs while “Falling” contains some restrained acoustic parts in the beginning, which works out quite well. The acoustic material continues to be their best songs as displayed with “The Air I Breathe.” I preferred this style over say “Freefall.”
Uneven Slices Of Sky is a girth-y album that is hard to digest in one sitting. At thirteen songs with no filler this may have fared better split into two EP’s or even a double album. Not every song worked for me but there were a couple of inspired tracks amongst the batch.
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