Review : Sweet Billy Pilgrim - Crown and Treaty
GuardianAfter a surprise 2009 Mercury prize nomination for their second album, Twice Born Men, Sweet Billy Pilgrim frontman Tim Elsenburg gave up being an odd-job man to focus on his band full-time. That move has paid off handsomely, as Crown and Treaty is at times wonderful, particularly on "Blue Sky Falls", "Joyful Reunion" and "Brugada". By parts atmospheric, experimental and dramatic, it finds a happy midpoint between the chamber pop sensibilities of Rufus Wainwright, Radiohead's ingenious arrangements and Elbow's epic crescendos, the addition of a vocal foil in Jana Carpenter adding extra hues to Elsenburg's palette. Roll on their next Mercury nomination....full text
NMELike the time-travelling optometrist in American author Kurt Vonnegut’s book Slaughterhouse Five who gets abducted by aliens that Sweet Billy Pilgrim are named after, ‘Crown and Treaty’ is all about straddling eras. They sound simultaneously new and old. First come the floaty countryside textures on ‘Blakefield Gold’, reminiscent of old-timers like Nick Drake. Second come singer-songwriter Tim Elsenburg’s cracked vocals, aping ‘Sea Change’-era Beck on the album’s centrepiece ‘Blood Is Big Expense’. Third comes the hyper-detailed production of an REM record. You can hear many cymbal crashes, because this is cleverly crafted, dramatic stuff. ...full text
The IndependentSweet Billy Pilgrim's follow-up to 2009's Mercury-nominated Twice Born Men finds songwriter Tim Elsenburg making great strides forward with an ambitious cycle of songs about identity and history.
It's a work of light and shade, quite literally, with recurring images of darkness being illuminated. "Arrived at Upside Down" is the centrepiece, its reflections on birth and life arranged for glockenspiel, avant-rock guitar and violin. Alongside it are sleek art-pop exercises that variously recall the likes of Elbow, Talk Talk and Radiohead, employing unusual sonic strategies to animate Elsenburg's thoughtful, literate lyrics....full text
Music OMHSo, whilst Elsenburg’s deft combination of the melancholy and the anthemic could easily border on the manipulative, it’s his more subtle flourishes and hints of weirdness that make this music so compelling. It also helps that he has a band that rise to the challenge of this unashamedly serious music. New member Jana Carpenter’s vocals provide a warm and empathetic foil to Elsenburg’s often introspective musings. This is a regal, thoroughly resplendent album and it’s unlikely that there will be another this year to better and more subtly subvert the mainstream. ...full text
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