So, what have you achieved during lockdown? Have you released yourself on the world at the start of 2020, released 2 albums that you wrote, produced, designed yourself? Put out numerous interesting video clips of your songs, created great merch and opened your arms to a whole load of people that love what you do? Or did you like me spend too much time eating cake and drinking beer, whilst tweeting too much about anything and everything?
Well luckily The Mariners did the former and here we are, album number two, steaming in less then a year after the first The Tides of Time hit our shores during that Summer of 20 which doesn’t quite have that same feeling as the summer on 67 or 76 etc.
This time around our ship mates have disembarked the good ship Tide and have taken up another mode of transport to take us on one of their merry journeys this time it’s a Train. I like the idea of this that each album will be based around a theme, Ships now trains, surely album 3 will be Planes?
Anyway, back to business.
Tales from the Great Central Line is an 11-track album that sees the band go all German Hardcore Rave mixed with Daft Punk noodling’s and Jay Z raps.
Well of course it isn’t – so let’s get this out of the way first.
If you’re expecting an album that changes direction drastically from the first, that disregards what the boys are about and adds more studio trickery than Paul Daniels then you are going to be well a bit disappointed. But if you like me are wanting to hear some exceptionally fine song writing played with love and integrity fuelled by not just the big names of the 60’s but also the likes of The Zombies or The Searchers and certainly The Hollies then you’ve come to the right place.
Of course, it’s not a great departure from the sound of Tides but in many ways, it is – the song writing has been taken up a notch, the band sound more confident and settled – knowing that there is an audience for this genre of music has got to help. But they have developed, they’ve added organs and a violin, xylophones, female backing vocals which all help to bring to life this collection of songs.
When I think of The Mariners songs and if you asked me to describe them, I would say that they fall into 2 camps – The first being about girls, losing, finding, asking for forgiveness, in fact 5 of the songs on this album are named with girls names – well I guess they may have a girl in every port or perhaps they just make great songs – the album kicks off in fact with (That girl called) Mary Jane which I am sure is about a girl, nothing else surely (Hmm). It’s a great opener to the album and builds from the organ whirling into life and Luke is singing about standing in the rain. Its classic The Mariners and that is a great compliment. Dear Genevieve, is a beautiful jaunty previous single almost played on the xylophone and if it is indeed written about one of the bands babies it’s a beautiful gift to treasure. My Maria and Caroline continue the thread – songs about occupying your mind and moving on but unable to forget them. Caroline is prime Hollies – love and longing at their best. Not to be left out is Jennifer another great slice of 60s pop – she keeps Luke up all night – it’s very much a twin of The Corals Dreaming of You – more on them later.
And then there is the other side to The Mariners – the songs that are mini kitchen sink dramas, songs laden with imagery of the early 60’ and post WWII life – they are actually so gritty you’d expect Albert Finney or Hylda Baker to show up. Songs like Ooh La La, Catch my breath and Royston’s Lament are key to this and show a great knowledge of weaving social commentary into their songs – are we that far away from that 60’s life now? Food banks, poor education, teenage mothers, social inequality – these songs for me are the best they have ever written – Catch my breath especially with its folky undertones and backing vocals by the beautiful voice of Vanessa Williamson (wife of Luke) really shows like Simon and Garfunkel did that you can write these songs that say something musically and lyrically.
The last few songs in fact do start to show where the band will go next – its certainly has a more melancholic and folky feel to it – so yes, they progressed if any neigh sayers are reading this.
Overall then there is plenty here for old fans of last year and for new music fans to enjoy. With The Coral making a triumphant return recently with the magnificent Coral Island of which The Mariners share many great traits with, if you need to get there then why not Get Onboard the Great Central Line as your going to enjoy the ride.
The album is released on the 11th June 2021 it can be purchased from Bandcamp here:
Let me know what you think.
And remember – Listen, Share, Buy, Repeat