Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Album Review: True Story by Patrick Craig (by Emma Prew)

Patrick Craig is one of my favourite up-and-coming young singer-songwriters around at the moment. He releases his debut album, True Story, on the 29th April on Under The Bridge Records. We were lucky enough to hear the album a couple of weeks before its official release and Colin let me take a stab at reviewing it.

The album opens with the title track, True Story, in which Patrick sings of an insecure young female who finds escape in skinny dipping and drinking alcohol. The song begins with simple palm-muted guitar but progresses into more of a full band affair throughout the song. The sea sound effect is a nice touch at the end of the song, although it does make me long for the seaside!

Your Life Jacket Is Under Your Seat flows well from the previous song with a continuation of the seaside sounds, this time overlaid with guitar and drums. The song is quite a slow one featuring honest lyrics about being able to pick yourself back up again when things get bad. Patrick has an excellent way with words, ‘I may stumble, and I may fall. But I will pick myself back up, Like I’ve done a couple of times before. I refuse to sink but I’m not sure how far I can swim. So lead me to the water and throw me in.’ Those lines in particular remind me of Wil Wagner of The Smith Street Band, although musically they are quite different.

The third track on the album, Cold Coffee In Cracked Mugs, sees the guitars take a backseat while haunting piano-playing takes the forefront. It suits the melancholic lyrics of the song and gives it even more of a heartfelt feel. The song is about how people can sometimes find themselves in desperate situations in which they don’t get on with one another anymore. ‘You read these stories of people you’ll never be, Having adventures you’ve never had and never will have. But if it’s you and be against the world then I’ll guess we’ll call it a draw.’

The guitar is back for Words Unspoken, as is the theme of singing about a troubled person (and a female at that) and trying to be there for them. The song is an emotional one and it really feels like Patrick is baring his soul. Musically it doesn’t use anything but an acoustic guitar but that’s really all it needs. At this point I will point out Patrick’s obvious similarities to Frank Turner, both musically and lyrically, but I don’t mean that negatively. For one thing I love Frank Turner and for another Patrick’s songs seem all the more relatable than Mr Turner’s, for people in their twenties at least.

Splinters is the next song on True Story. Following on from earlier themes on the album, the song is about having negative feelings and not being alone in that. Whereas in Your Life Jacket Is Under The Seat Patrick sang of picking himself back up, in Splinters Patrick is singing of others being able to pick themselves up after a rough time, perhaps a break up. ‘There’s no such thing as a clean break, splinters get left behind. Even the deepest cut, heals over time. I’m sorry this isn’t easy, but it gets better. Believe me.’ This is another almost entirely acoustic guitar-based song with some melodic picking as well as strummed chords.

The tempo picks up a bit for the next song, Fighter, as Patrick sings of overcoming depression and anxiety – or rather, fighting it. ‘So let’s go storm this barricade, We’ll go dancing in the rain. And when every demon is slain, We’ll sing we survived. We survived.’ There is a potential singalong moment towards the end of the song when Patrick sings ‘You are so much stronger than this.’ and another voice (possibly still Patrick’s but recorded separately, although I’m going to assume it is someone else!) echoes it back to him. It makes me believe in his words and I hope others believe in his words too. I’d love to see this song performed live with some audience participation.

Begin Again is louder than anything before it with full band from the outset. As the title suggests, Begin Again is about having to start over and rethinking how to do things after changes in your life. ‘Because you’re still living in North London, And I’m back at my parents’ house. And the distance isn’t anything, It’s just one more thing to figure out.’ It’s the kind of song I can imagine going down well when played live, like a hit single (if such a thing exists anymore) or a set closer. Again, it’s very Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls-esque but also reminds me of full-band Ducking Punches – perhaps this mean Patrick Craig could be a future signing to Xtra Mile!

Like Splinters, Drinking Too Much features some really lovely, haunting and melodic guitar playing. As you might imagine from the title, the song is about drinking too much alcohol, as many young people do, as a form of release. ‘We’re drinking our poison, We’ve got things inside of us we need to kill. We’ve been drinking too much.’ Although the song is nearly 3 minutes long (most of the tracks average at 3 or 4 minutes long), musically it sort of feels like an interlude.

The penultimate song on the album is one that I clearly remember hearing when I saw Patrick play live last year. I liked it then and I like it even more so now. Hold My Jacket is a song about wanting the freedom of being an adult without actually needing to ‘grow up’. ‘She wants to be an adult, But doesn’t want to grow up. I say surely you see where your argument is flawed.’ Patrick is joined by a female vocalist to sing the chorus, ‘Hold my jacket, I’m going in for a swim. And if the water is nice then baby won’t you come on in.’ which is a nice touch (and makes sense given the lyrics). Like Begin Again, Hold My Jacket is a powerful full band track that I’d love to see live, again – but with the full band next time!

The final track on True Story, It Matters, slows things down again to bring the album to a close. There is no mistaking that the album has come to an end with lyrics ‘Here’s to nights we’ll never remember, Here’s to friends we’ll never forget.’ The whole track is sort of muffled by whatever effects and samples they’ve used which is little bit strange as none of the other songs had such effects. It’s odd but doesn’t change the fact that It Matters ends a great album.

All-in-all True Story is excellent; varying musically from stripped back acoustic tracks to full band, full energy tracks with some piano thrown in for good measure. Lyrically the album is honest, heartfelt and highly relatable, encompassing themes of growing up, dealing with change, overcoming anxieties and being there for others. As I mentioned already, I would recommend for fans of Frank Turner and Ducking Punches.

You can pre-order True Story from Under The Bridge Records here.
And find Patrick Craig on Facebook here.

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