I took the ear plugs out and told Janice that I was listening to Deacon Blue.
“Oh they were just on the car radio”
“Riding On The Tide Of Love”
“No one of the older ones”.
Welcome to the Deacon Blue story. Hit laden between 1988 and 94 and then almost 20 years of nothing before Hipsters in 2012 set them off mining a rich seam culminating in the stunning City Of Love album just a year ago. It is almost like two bands, two stories even though two thirds of the band are the same.
The music is the same too, sophisticated songwriting on the fulcrum of rock and pop adding a plethora of other influences to the mix.
Riding On The Tide Of Love is actually being presented as “a continuation” and “a companion piece” to last year’s City Of Love. Thematically that fits well but don’t think it is just more of the same. Deacon Blue are always adventuring for new nuances.
That title track. This is a whole new Deacon Blue sonic space. For maybe a bizarre reason it took me back to Don’t Let The Teardrops Start from their Ooh Las Vegas record, not in the busking sound but in the loose organic mischievous feel.
As I say Riding On The Tide Of Love is no busk. It is like a Vaudevillian Fairground romp. If Tom Waits and his wife Kathleen Brennan decided to write a song for a radio friendly rock band then this would be it. A unique Deacon Blue original 35 years in.
That one song is enough good reason for an extension to City Of Love in itself but there are no fillers with Deacon Blue. They used to put records together of the tracks they couldn’t squeeze on the official releases. Riding On The Tide Of Love’s other seven tracks offer seven other songs that are Deacon Blue all over but not like any Deacon Blue song before them.
From the stripped back Look Up, showcasing Lorraine McIntosh’s angelic voice in a sober Fairytale in New York, to the Bacharach echoes on It’s Still Early to the Memphis Soul of Send A Note Out to the gorgeous piano lead and brass of She’s Not Gonna Be That Girl.
That latter song is written with Nashville songwriter Tia Sillers and throws another hue. The imagery and storytelling took me back to Raintown closer Town To Be Blamed and perhaps hinted at the 35 years of artistic maturing in this soul filled band.
All in all, these eight songs are more silver linings of Coronavirus lockdown. As an anorak fan of artists I would love to trawl their home studios for the demoed gems we never heard. Imagine these being left on the Ross shelf.
I go back to the beginning. Riding On The Tide Of Love has verses filled with the menace of life’s challenging dark but then takes us to the lightness of a chorus filled with hope and light and love. If there is a vocal sound that best describes such a tide it is that blend of Ross and McIntosh voices, jousting, healing, soaring bringing harmony and beauty to the friction.
Ride on the tide of it when all remains is a city of… love!