Riding high after his ground breaking folk opera ‘The Butcher’ Mosley’s plans for the follow up faltered when his personal life unexpectedly had to take priority for a year.
Now he returns with his most personal and striking album to date – and what could have been a dour and contemplative album is a life affirming kaleidoscope of beauty and joy!
‘You’re Going To Die!’ is about grief and what comes after that. 11 songs, 40 minutes, no bullshit. All urgent, vital and full of life. The songs you write once in a lifetime when only the truth will do.
Check out ‘People Are Idiots’. Mosley’s composer credentials (and – let’s be honest – love of Nina Simone) marry with his gift for snappy hooks to keep the 11/8 time signature swinging as the junk percussion, sci-fi synths and pizzicato strings buoy up the all-star singers of the Red Meat Orchestra’s call-and-response backing vocals. It should be a weird mess but it’s an absolute banger.
Or the hypnotic repeated string refrain of ‘Couldn’t Love you More’ which musically doffs its cap to avant-garde minimalist composer Julius Eastman but adds a perfect Mosley pop song about returning to the small town where you were a lonely kid. All heart and swooping chorus it’s both joyous and melancholy at the same time.
Mosley utilizes his Red Meat Orchestra (a 16 piece mixture of bluesy bar band, baroque strings ’n’ woodwinds and found junk percussion) with a sparing intelligence reflecting his development as an in demand theatre composer. (He is currently creating the score for Little Angel Theatre’s new adaptation of Julia ‘The Gruffalo’ Donaldson’s ‘The Owl and The Pussycat’ opening November 2019)
He gives the guest singers room to shine too. SXSW New Folk Award winner Jack Harris testifies on bike-wheel led groove ‘Judge Mosley Presiding’, while Rough Trade’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner Josienne Clarke and ex Mediaeval Baebe Esther Dee add celestial harmonies to the retro synths of night-driving nostalgia anthem ‘The 1970s’.
They are joined by Red Meat regulars Catherine Earnshaw and Darren Allford for gang vocal duties on the title track’s twisted tango which Mosley says he wrote after a previous theatre review described him as ‘The Muppets meet Tom Waits’ adding ‘I didn’t think it was quite true before and I really wanted to live up to that!’
Bangers aside, with grief as the theme perhaps it’s inevitable that the album’s two most melancholy songs hit hardest…
’A Week Of Rain’ (another odd time signature, layers of tuned percussion, beautiful piano and harp interplay) speaks unflinchingly about the reality of looking after someone at the end of life. When confusion reigns and ‘where’ and ‘who’ and ‘when’ are all mixed up – how for those trying to help the simplest thing to do is also the kindest; lie. Pretend. Oh Yes, they were just here, and yes wasn’t it lovely to see them again? In the end only kindness remains.
And in ‘Well Done Son’ (short, sad, just piano and strings) Mosley receives a card from his (usually stoic and unforthcoming) Mother. It has very few words but it says a lot.
However, the good time vibes return for album closer ‘Because I Did Not Die Today’ with more time signature fun, shades of Dave Brubeck, more Nina and – keeping a promise to his mother – a wailing blues harmonica. A foot stomping wave goodbye. A heartfelt Thank You.
Mosley’s more-famous-friends fill out the orchestra: Tom Moth (Florence and The Machine) on harp, Joe Peet (Cousteau, Benjamin Clementine) on double bass, Colin Smith (Feist, Shapeshifters) on Saxophones and this time another singer; BBC Radio 2 favourite Jess Morgan duets ondefiant drunken waltz ‘Build your Fire’. But this is undeniably Mosley’s album. His voice, his songs set the tone of urgent, intelligent musicality and defiant humanity.
Also it’s fun.
The full Red Meat Orchestra launch the album at The Slaughtered Lamb, Farringdon on Tuesday October 15th.