Tensheds - 'The Days Of My Confinement' Album Review


Tracklist:

1. Ticking Clocks

2. The Bridge Song

3. Mirrors

4. Cotton Wool World

5. Hell Is In The Water

6. Into The Light

7. The English Way

8. Girl I’m Sorry

9. Half Of A Heart

10. Let The Tear Cry

11. A Girls Tears


In a world that has descended into uncertainty and a loss of clarity, what we need more than anything is hope. Where there is darkness, we need that light to guide us forward. Where there is overwhelming noise, we need peace. We need to feel like we are a part of something more than just ourselves and with this album, Tensheds provides us this and more.


After having to cancel a tour due to the pandemic Tensheds moved into the world of livestreaming where he was challenged to write a new song and perform it within a week. Embracing the challenge, he did that before taking the seed and germinating it into the idea of an album recorded at home with the artist playing all instruments and engineering the sessions himself. The resulting album “The Days Of My Confinement” echoes the empty pandemic world outside without becoming self-indulgent or wallowing.


Tensheds musical weapon of choice is piano, pulling our collective thoughts and feelings and channelling them into the keys. The artist, and I mean that in the full context of the word’s meaning, takes the classical training he received at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and fuses it with the Rachmaninoff inspired arrangements he’s created into a playing style that is unique and fitting.


At times, the music is grand and almost operatic in scale as the album’s opener ‘Ticking Clocks’ demonstrates, capturing what most of us have felt over the past few months. His piano is slightly accentuated here with the occasional brush of percussion. Next, we have the haunting ‘The Bridge Song’, his playing softer and gentler here invoking a feeling of melancholy before building to something more grandiose. It reminds me of solo piano versions I have heard of Nick Cave playing his epic ‘The Ship Song’ which I feel shares some genetic DNA with this album.

The first single (and song that introduced me to this originally) ‘Mirrors’ carries the emotional punch of someone like Muhammed Ali behind it. It floors you in a way that is unexpected with its soft verses and then uppercutting you straight to your feelings as the chorus ring through. Tensheds’ vocal style is quite unique too. It takes the growl and grit of a troubadour like Tom Waits but gives it a feeling of lightness and air, his voice more sailing than crawling in the Bowery gutter.


‘Cotton Wool World’ hangs the song on the barest skeleton of a tune which works so well in it’s favour. Again, Tensheds writing and playing serves the song, a less-is-more approach that allows it to sit and resonate with the listener. It burrows it’s way in through your ear before journeying to your heart and wrapping itself around it in a loving embrace. The grand piano’s notes just seem to hang on the air, carried by the breeze. Here what isn’t being played is just as important as what it, space between the chords and notes allow the song to breathe rather than suffocate.


The pace picks up a little with ‘Hell Is In The Water’ thanks to a simple piano line and percussion. The focus is certainly more on rhythm on this track, but that doesn’t mean that the song is any lesser for it. To my ears it sounds like a song that could be quite easily adapted to a full band if required with a honky-tonk piano leading us around a midnight French Quarter of New Orleans before ‘Into The Light’ pulls us into its warm embrace in a darkened doorway. A ragtime ‘The English Way’ could have stepped out a Victorian music hall while taking a gentle swipe at the stereotype of what we’re perceived as culturally with lines like “hold on, suffer in silence / Oh it’s the English way” poking gentle fun at us.


‘Girl I’m Sorry’ could easily have been written by someone like Mark Everett of Eels fame. In fact I would say that Eels is probably the band that Tensheds reminds me of most, especially with his song writing and playing (the way the song is played on an electric piano is really invocative of the band too). A low symphonic drone opens ‘Half Of A Heart’ before a piano takes the lead again, again the simplicity of structure and playing giving the song a more emotional weight. ‘Let The Tear Cry’ is the album’s epic at almost six and a half minutes and would be rushed if it were any shorter. Again, the arrangement is sparse like everything else here which works in its favour so well, allowing it to breath and create a feeling of euphoria as the song pulls itself towards a soft conclusion. We close with the lamenting ‘A Girls Tears’, a song that carries a heavy sadness with it. This sorrow isn’t overwhelming though, the piano’s notes bleed into each other creating a sense of unease and dissonance before it finally disappears through the finally open door, able to hide away in the outside world.


We can only speculate what this album would the album would have sounded like if it was recorded in a normal studio but would it even have existed at all? These songs are born from circumstance and the need to create. It’s the sound of man standing alone at a window looking at an abandoned world beyond, the sound of someone reflecting on what is happening around him; the shared experience of a society held ransom by COVID-19 and how utterly alone it has left each of us. The album is warm and intimate, benefiting repeated listens on headphones in a dark room. Odd to think that something birthed through “The Days Of My Confinement” can resonate with the listener but it really does. If anything, the album reminds us all that we are all connected with each other as we all go through these shared experiences, even when we are alone. If you ever needed proof that music connects us all, no matter who we are and where we exist, it is here. Tensheds has woven all our stories into this tapestry of an album. All we need to do is allow ourselves to be wrapped up in it and enjoy.

Website - http://www.tensheds.com/


Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Tensheds/


Review - Scott Hamilton

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