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STEREO EMBERS VIDEO PREMIER – “How Can I Keep it Alive” from Glasgow’s Sister John

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For all you home bred musicologists out there, you know as well as we do the entrancing effect a single label can have, their carefully curated roster being of such seemingly magical quality that just encountering one of their freshly-issued albums in the new releases bin down at your local can actually cause you to quietly start salivating. Back in ‘the day’ (being the times of the Cartel, the UK-based distribution collective that distributed Rough Trade, Fast Forward, Revolver and Red Rhino among a blessed host of others) the very appearance of a certain label’s name on the back cover would lead to the instant separation of whatever you had in your wallet to the clerk behind the counter. For this author, that included Postcard, Aural (home to my beloved Manicured Noise), Hot from Australia and too many others to mention. Far from being a tradition that has passed into the misty recesses of time that same relationship between small independents and one’s slavish passion is as alive as it’s ever been. For us, one of those that have brought us the most wonderfully agonizing joy has been Last Night From Glasgow. Aside from bringing the likes of Bis, the Bluebells and Trashcan Sinatras back into our strata, they’re also the label responsible for sending us over the edge of our “dolorous indie soul” with the release of Doubtlands from Mt. Doubt. Just from that one example we are inescapably drawn to anything the LNFG label throws at us, and with this new offering from Sister John, that symbiotic obsession between label and listener is all the more solidified.

Bearing down on their third album for the label after their debut Returned From the Sea and an eponymous follow-up, this is, for us, our introduction to them, and allow us to say that we are hopelessly swooned. Stark, seductive (right there, how do they manage to evoke those two seemingly at-odds adjectives?), mellow of pace but oddly tense in its delivery, accentuated by warm keyboard tones that evoke that assured vulnerability of the best of early-to-mid 70’s songcraft even as the vocals call to mind, say, 1990’s female-fronted angst (Karla Bonoff meets Beth Orton perhaps?), while simultaneously calling to mind the very emotional states of hesitancy that has marked the last year of our lives. It is, in short, a wonder of anxious psychedelic soul that just happens to be very apropos for our time. We wait with typical music geek bated breath for the release of I Am By Day that’s scheduled for a 26 May 2021 release. Last Night From Glasgow? You ROCK! (in that wonderfully restrained kind of way)