Review – Further by Geneva

Do you ever hear a song for the first time, and when it’s done just sit there in astonishment at the beauty people can create? No One Speaks by Geneva was one of those. Driving home from work one night listening to Steve Lamacq and Jo Whiley (yea, verily, it was the mid-90’s, and that was what was done in those days), and Jo announced the first single from a Scottish band just signed to Nude, Suede’s label. So there I was thinking the worst – a Scottish Suede, aaargh – and the first few bars of slightly jangly, rather melancholy guitar made me think, oh sweet Jebus, another Smiths/Suede ripoff.

And then the singer sang. And when the song finished I had parked my car outside my house and sat there for a couple of minutes with my mouth open. Really, I’m not making this up.

Look, I really don’t want to start going on about sonic cathedrals of sound, voice of an angel, blah blah blah, like everyone did once they heard Andrew Montgomery’s singing, so if you haven’t heard it yet, click on the link below and have a listen. He is truly, truly astonishing. Yes, he sounds like a choirboy crossed with Lisa Gerrard. Yes, he’s got a near 4-octave range. His voice has a timbre that is simply astonishing. And what’s more, he understands better than most other great singers that the key to putting emotion in your singing is to be restrained, so that when you do finally let go, it sounds all the more heartbreaking. Go on, listen then come back.

There was a story I once heard that his mates had never heard him sing, and on a drunken night out he suddenly jumped up onto a table and started belting out tunes, much to everyone’s astonishment. His friends then told him, frankly, to form a band and do something with that voice of his. Not sure if it’s true, but hey, it’s a nice image.

Anyway, he formed Sunfish with Steven Dora and some other fellas, then renamed themselves to Geneva. No One Speaks was there first single, followed up by this album Further. And you can tell that this lot weren’t the chirpiest buggers around (and not just because they’re from Aberdeen). The first song, Temporary Wings, is about suicide. The second’s about being a bit pissed off. Closely followed by more songs about despair, loneliness, depression, paranoia, and other such cheery subjects. But aside from Worry Beads, it doesn’t really feel like an unhappy album, thanks to the marvellously dextrous guitar playing and Andrew’s vocals, which continue to amaze me even now, thirteen years after I first heard him. It must be said that some of the songs haven’t aged particularly well, but No One Speaks and another song, The God Of Sleep, stand up well.

The God Of Sleep possibly shows off Andrew’s voice at it’s finest. It’s a lullaby, of sorts, starting off with the old “Now I lay me down to sleep/pray the lord my soul to keep”.

Of course, it all went wrong – difficult second album, hopeless record label, breakup.

Andrew is now recording under the moniker St Famous. Check it out.

And there’s a rather nice archive where you can listen to lots of lovely Geneva goodness here.

The God Of Sleep

No One Speaks

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  1. Elbow, What A Band « Loft And Lost

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