Stornoway - Tales From Terra Firma

Stornoway are not going to win any medals for the most innovative sound but in these bleak times they’re like a warm and cosy, cuddle blanket.

Label: 4AD

Rating: 7

Stornoway have an uncanny ability to capture devastating romance in the most mundane of scenarios. The opener on ‘Tales From Terra Firma’, ‘You Take Me As I Am’ packs a luvvy-duvvy punch that could knock wedding bells into the eyes of the most cynical of grumps. When Brian Briggs sings of his wife’s tears falling in his eyes on their wedding night, lumps in throats is the order of the day. Then, when the heart-pumping chorus jumps with horns, strings and the conviction of love, it’s difficult to resist jumping around the room, smiling like a loon and uncontrollably clapping. You have been warned.

The rest of the album follows suit. Each song offers some soaring crescendo about the beauty of nature or the simple pleasure of the sun on your neck which makes you want to climb inside the song, Alice In Wonderland-style, hold your arms out- stretched and slowly twirl. And though it might seem a bit, for want of a better word, poncey – and an x-pieced indie folk band from the ancient halls of Oxford University is a very easy arrangement to dismiss as such – they come across as more cheeky and charming. Yes, it might be naïve to assume all is good and right and all we need is a calm breeze and some love, but it’s bloomin’ uplifting stuff. And isn’t this just what we need, when all around us bands are trying to push boundaries, pull shapes and reinvent the wheel?

‘Tales From Terra Firma’ offers a richer, fuller sound than the debut album and some tracks are tinged with an ever-so-gentle coating of sobriety and growing maturity but the important components of melody and subtlety are relatively unchanged. Stornoway are not going to win any medals for the most innovative sound but in these bleak times they’re like a warm and cosy, cuddle blanket that will cry you to sleep with a large, embarrassed smile on your face.