Review Summary: There's nothing left for us then us left dangling just a little shamefaced
On accepting the offer to work with King Creosote
(Kenny Anderson), producer Jon Hopkins dove into the Scottish singer-songwriter’s extensive discography of releases that stretched from the beginnings of the last decade to the present, picking lost gems and refreshing new ones to arrive at the quality, albeit short, tracklist for Diamond Mine
. Hopkins took on the role as acting sort of like both a repairman and a revivalist of sorts for Anderson’s work, never changing the core of the songs, per se, yet coming away with something more profound and, in retrospect, effective on record. ‘When you’ve got a voice that beautiful,’ Hopkins recently told Quietus
concerning Anderson, ‘all you want to do is support it. I always let the vocals lead.’
And indeed, Hopkins does just that for the songwriter; though Diamond Mine
’s identity as a collaborative effort is never forgotten or shelved either. The introductory-esque track “First Watch” is a gateway of transportation to soothing textures, according to Hopkins comprising of an ‘eavesdropping’ on singer Anderson and his daughter discussing their family’s medical history in the background, masked and accompanied by a distant piano. Entering soon after are the sounds of a light ocean spray and seagulls that readliy invite the steady acoustic guitar strum of Anderson as he breathes and swoons “John Taylor’s Month Away”, a song full of hesitant fear concerning losing track of one’s own identity and location in life. The lyrics of Anderson reach into his interpersonal connections and his very acceptance of mortality (“Bats in the Attic” and “Running on Fumes”) and always take center-stage in the recording, whatever production Easter eggs may be present.
According to Anderson and Hopkins, Diamond Mine
is inspired by the pair’s shared love for Fife, Scotland. Many of the latter producer’s personal touches to the songs come from field recordings taken from various locations throughout the area itself, such as on the aforementioned “First Light” and “John Taylor’s Month Away”, the latter dealing with Anderson’s very own neighbor. On "Running on Fumes”, a relational number that’s vocal melody grips the heart and has you easily leveling with Anderson’s person in a relational feud, the songwriter and his brothers can even be heard during roadside bust-ups with car engine revs in the background. Hopkins states that ‘[he’d] brought this little field recorder up to Fife,’ and that ‘[he] took it with [him] when [he and Anderson] went to Kilrenny Church tearooms,’ in leading up to the finalizing of Diamond Mine
. Anderson was quick to add, though, that ‘I hope nobody thinks we're like the Fife version of Cornish Sea Shanties’. Diamond Mine
’s role as a ‘transportation-al album’, to anywhere really for any individual, comes before any intended, or not intended, geographical references.
What’s interesting about Diamond Mind
is the fleeting subtly with which any outside influences – that is, names or geographical locations – are implemented into its auditory contents. The songs’ intended emotions always drive straight home without distraction: ‘You don't need to stand on that new mini roundabout to get it,‘ Anderson told Quietus
. ’It's not about the place so much as the state that you're in, and what you've either been through, or need to be through.’ Heard unaware about Diamond Mine
’s background, one might merely pick up a soothing piano and acoustic guitar-led folk album that bends and coils on Anderson’s vocals and Hopkins’ delicate production touches; and that’s really what its intended to be, at least initially. But there’s more than that to Diamond Mine
if you’re willing to delve into it: various knickknacks and Easter eggs that challenge its initial ‘simple-sounding nature’, yet come off as sounding both comfortable and natural, adding to the experience. Its creators have made it clear that the various places where the album takes listeners is completely up to them: ‘We're not in any rush to tell the story, whatever that story is,’ Anderson concludes. Listen for yourselves, the singer seems to say, and see where Diamond Mine