by Philip Moss
Take the long road and walk it: White Flowers’ debut is a homage to patience and perseverance
To enter White Flowers debut album, Day by Day, is not so much to encroach upon a set of songs, but an alternate universe: a dystopian underbelly that is built on counter points; a society where opposites are the norm. Where Joey Cobb’s emotionally heavy, droning guitars are layered upon the soaring poetry of Katie Drew. At times, wistful and heavenly – at times, anxiety laden. It searches – longs – for answers, but neither the light nor the dark offer a guide.
Featuring songs dating back over half a decade, the Preston duo have, for various reasons, had to wait to let these songs out into the world. The collection’s oldest composition, Help Me Help Myself, has a naivety that endears. It’s the moment where Drew’s voice comes through most clearly – ‘I’ve been walkin’ around in a daze’ – her words leading us, by the hand, into the same mindful space that the long player takes its listener. That these songs are wracked with teenage doubt only brings Drew’s diegesis nearer. Closer. She looks to the future, but the answers only bring her back to the same starting point. ‘Help me help myself’ is easier said than done. On a record that will take time, it is perhaps the most immediate offering – Drew’s soaring chorus line cutting through the blurry edges of the record’s horizon line.
Produced by Jez Williams at his Manchester studio, the Doves’ man’s most telling contributions are the subtle dynamic shifts that he brings to an album that was largely home recorded. Night Drive‘s hypnotic percussion arrives out of the grainy fog on a groove that could only come from the north of England, whereas Daylight‘s outro shines light on the subtlety, as synths emerge from the mix to compliment Cobb’s addictive, Paul Klee-like abstract landscapes – in black of white of course.
That Day by Day‘s sleeve is presented in the same colours as a Penguin Modern Classic makes more and more sense on repeated listens. As like the beaten copy of your favourite book, its plot, sub plots, and the hidden narratives woven into its fabric will only start to show themselves over time. On closer, Nightfall, Drew sings in an airy falsetto – ‘I’m following you wherever you go – you won’t shake loose, no no…’ – a metaphor, indeed, for an LP ready to take up residency deep within your conscious.
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