Tom James Scott: piano; Andrew Chalk: arrangements and strings
Appraising a record like Wild Flowers is a task that may be both smooth and problematic. The easy part is reminding a reader that whatever comes from Chalk’s quarters is never, ever less than plain beautiful to hear and see, also in consideration of the evocative artworks and images distinguishing a good number of his sleeves. This one in particular features a sepia-tinged photo of an elderly woman (with a bird on the shoulder) posing with a male youngster on her side, a cheerful attitude revealing an exquisite flash of closeness, and an instant call for our memory to retrieve its own snapshots from the repository.
A more ambitious aim is attempting to let someone understand how this dewy-eyed music – performed by Scott on the piano with discretion and sensitiveness – can produce crucial consequences on a predisposed listener’s mood, at the same time avoiding to declaim the list of apparent similarities. The first side’s lone track’s title “Speaking To The Rose” already gives an idea about the profoundness of the impressions we’re experiencing, a combination of homesick reminiscence and disaffection for a not precisely inspiriting “now”. Chalk’s nebular mixes – which include tactful layers of strings – bring forth brooding spells replete with self-reproach.
Only in “Mayfly” the sound is rendered coarser and slightly distorted, as if we were suddenly blinded by the sand raised by marine winds, yet still able to learn from the echo of the washing ripples. Especially in a dismal November Sunday like today, this soundtrack for another page of the “book of regrets” becomes a constant presence, in spite of the necessity of continually flipping the vinyl’s sides.