The title suggests a notion of calm waters and this is certainly a release that you can drift away to with all its visions of idyllic summer days amidst a delicate and dreamy sound that smothers your senses in a satisfying manner. The blend of guitar driven melodies with tender, subtle twang is the album’s appealing feature and Mike Gale himself revealed that the lyrical content often comes a close second to the sound he and his musical collaborators have conjured up. This is despite the central theme of the songs being inspired personal emotions and often reflecting upon his experience of love.
The album, his second under the Co-Pilgrim banner since 2008, was conceived in Melbourne, Australia but is all set to bear fruition now Mike has returned to the UK. The ideas behind the songs have been around for a while but it was the input of several fine musicians including Joe Bennett from the excellent Oxford based band The Dreaming Spires, which provided the finishing touches to bring them to life. The momentum behind this album is starting to grow with the lead track and single release ‘22’ starting to get some quality airplay. While the harmonies and exquisite gear changes of the sound make this track stand out there are possibly two other songs that are slightly more preferable to me.The title track ‘A Fairer Sea’ is an outstanding enchanting song that is the album’s high spot with the slide guitar adding some romance to a sound that first drew attention to what that iconic Manchester band could have evolved into. This is closely followed by the summery nostalgic feel to ‘I’m Going to the Country’ where Mike intimated that his attempt to write an upbeat song with sad lyrics may have gone a little too far in poking fun at the alt-country scene but the bass lines of Andy Reaney redeemed this quality song.
The other tracks roam from the faint mellow sound of ‘Now You’re Here’ to the more rock led vibes of ‘Come On Come On’ where an influence of late 60’s Kinks can be detected. In fact the album is best listened to as an entity with all ten songs having sufficient merit especially the closing numbers where we are invited into Mike’s inner thoughts. First ‘No Man or Mountain’ serenely introduces us to his liaison with Dyana Gray while the self reflective ‘No Guiding Light’ succeeds in bringing this superb album to a rewarding conclusion.The notion of a fairer sea in nautical circles may have once led to the doldrums but any induced depression would have been swept away if exposed to the wonderful sound of this very fine and highly recommended Co-Pilgrim album. It has all the credentials to become the sound of the summer in esteemed circles. Mike has indicated how he fell out of love with alt-country, however A FAIRER SEA has certainly gone a long way to enticing the genre back.
Mike talks though each track
A Fairer Sea Video