PAUL THOMAS SAUNDERS – ” Figure In A Landscape”

Posted: October 23, 2022 in MUSIC

Eight years after his acclaimed debut album, singer-songwriter Paul Thomas Saunders returns with the terrific new album “Figure In A Landscape.” Saunders’ new album, “Figure In A Landscape“, has now been released. And his journey toward this album is quite interesting. The Brighton-based singer-songwriter released his debut album, “Beautiful Desolation”, on Atlantic Records in 2014 to rave reviews from The Guardian, The Times, The Line of Best Fit and more. Becoming disillusioned with the music industry after that initial burst of success, Saunders stopped performing for a time and became a member of a lifeboat crew as well as a paramedic for England’s National Health Service (NHS). He made a fleeting return in 2017 with two singles, featured on Mae Martin’s acclaimed Netflix series ‘Feel Good’ but it proved to be a false start. But then stepped away from music once again. An invitation from Bon Iver’s Justin Turner to perform at Dublin’s Forbidden Fruit Festival lit a fire under Saunders and led to him writing the songs that appear on the “Figure In A Landscape” album. The album is named for Francis Bacon’s 1952 painting Study of Figure in a Landscape.

The album opens with the excellent, atmospheric “TV, Junk Food and Bed.” It contains a good vocal by Saunders and the instrumentation is understated for the most part. “Bloodlust” is an easy going track with a nice flow to it. Saunders’ vocal on the song is top notch. “Heartlands” includes an effective echo on Saunders’ vocal and a distant trumpet toward the end of the song. Saunders’ production work on the track is fantastic. “Heaven Or Higher” features a perfectly understated vocal by Saunders, and the echo on the track gives the song an otherworldly feeling.

The sound of the album was inspired by an old jukebox owned by Saunders’ father. The album’s songs have the warmth, crackle and hiss of tunes playing on a jukebox. The album was written, recorded and produced by Saunders himself at his home amid collaborations with Alastair Thynne and Max Prior, with the record also featuring a number of other artists and friends including Ajimal, Hilang Child and SIVU.

The most interesting song title on the album is “Jesus Says, ‘Forgive Yourself’.” It’s a very chilled-out, mellow song with a nice ‘70s vibe to it. “Cruel” is quite beautiful and is one of the highlights of the album. It contains a subdued vocal by Saunders and is about trying to get through tough times.

“I’ll Come Running” is the album’s wild card. The drums on the track are heavier than on the album’s other songs. It’s probably the most pop-sounding song on the album. “Pas De Deux” is a relaxed song, featuring light instrumentation and a hushed vocal by Saunders. Album closer “Love Birds” has disjointed music at the start before Saunders echo-laden vocal kicks in. It’s a solid way to round out the album.

“Figure In A Landscape” is a very satisfying return by Saunders. And as good as the material sounds on the album, it is even better when Saunders performs live. If you have the chance to see Saunders in concert, definitely do so. You will leave the venue quite impressed. I certainly was when I saw Saunders play live. He is, without question, an artist of considerable substance.

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