After finding out that his father had suffered a heart attack, Thomas George, who performs as The Lion and The Wolf, accelerated the song writing process for his latest release. ‘The Cardiac Hotel’ is the follow up to The Lion and The Wolf’s self-released debut, 2014’s ‘Symptoms,’ and is his first release since signing to Xtra Mile Recordings. George draws from his family anguish to deliver an album that is at times sombre, but uplifting at others.
This latest album feels more experimental than its predecessor, as it branches off in different directions musically from track to track. This boldness and evolution keeps the album feeling fresh throughout, as no two songs feel quite the same. His debut proved that he could nail the songwriter portion of his singer-songwriter title, while this album shows that he is versatile, and capable of delivering musically diverse works that don’t fit comfortably into a single genre.
The listening experience is near physical, as the music and lyrics press firmly on emotions, making you want to cry one moment, and leaving you feeling at peace and deeply relaxed the next. While all the songs are roughly three minutes long you can’t help but wish that some were longer, as you loose yourself in a rhythm and feeling, only to have it quickly shift states in the next song.
The influence of other artists can be seen throughout ‘The Cardiac Hotel.’ One track, ‘The Pinching Point,’ in particular feels so comparable to Death Cab For Cutie’s ‘I Will Follow You into the Dark,’ that they seem drawn from the same great musical well. While dozens of comparisons can be made to similar artists like, City and Color or Bright Eyes, many of the tracks surpass his peers by feeling intangibly more soulful.
The main thing holding this album back is an overuse of echoes and reverb on vocal tracks that, at times, muddle the lyrics. This artistic choice eventually wears out its welcome, as it makes songs that are otherwise unique start to feel dangerously familiar. While tragic experiences are unfortunately a common fact of life, there is nothing common about ‘The Cardiac Hotel.’ Thomas George himself has said that he knows his inspiration to be cliché, yet he used this build up of emotional energy in a unique and touching way.
‘The Cardiac Hotel’ is out on the 7th of October 2016 via Xtra Mile Recordings.
This Lion and The Wolf article was written by Justinas Staskevicius, a GIGsoup contributor