Song of the Day, April 24: One Day Like This by Elbow

elbowonedayToday’s song is the epic peak of a magnificent album. Elbow showed off all their musical styles and influences on their fourth disc, The Seldom Seen Kid. A tight, versatile band with smart lyrics, they explore their prog/art roots, love of solid pop, emphasis on dynamic range and variety, and clever sequencing.

One Day Like This finds singer Guy Garvey startled to find himself waxing optimistic. Life may be challenging, but somehow love has given him hope and strength.

What made me behave that way?
Using words I never say
I can only think it must be love
Oh, anyway, it’s looking like a beautiful day.

Gorgeous strings, aching keyboards, and a barely restrained rhythm section propel Garvey along through his pleasantly gobsmacked wonderings. Then he intones “Throw those curtains wide!”, letting in the sun and making the most of this startling feeling. That section repeats for a long fade with a powerful choir and a fun guitar figure that would be right at home on a Queen epic. It’s a delightful package.

Enjoy this amazing song today.

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Song of the Day, April 7: The Fix by Elbow with Richard Hawley

elbowhawleyfixToday’s song is a wonderful collaboration. Elbow lead singer Guy Garvey met singer-songwriter Richard Hawley when they were both performing in Tennessee. They were on the same flight back to England and over “Battleship and drinks” struck up a friendship. They agreed to work together on a song, and the result is delightful.

The Fix, taken from Elbow’s stunning The Seldom Seen Kid, takes on a simple enough subject, fixing a horse race. Given the talent involved, however, the song itself is so much more. Featuring lines like “the redoubtable beast has had Pegasus pills”, it’s a lyrical tour-de-force. Garvey and Hawley’s voices blend delightfully, and the Elbow musicians provide a dark, swirling, mysterious backdrop for the tale. With eerie sound effects, subtle percussion, and off-kilter keyboards, it’s a magic musical ride.

The original version is stellar, but this live for broadcast version is even more amazing, showing off the band’s skill and featuring a tasty guitar solo from Hawley. Enjoy it today!

Song of the Day, March 24: The Everthere by Elbow

elbowleadersfreeToday’s song is a touching quest for lasting love. Elbow are known for their smart lyrics, diverse musical approaches, refined musicianship, and darkly quirky worldview. On the finest track from their third album, Leaders of the Free World, however, they put a more hopeful lens on that view.

The Everthere opens in classic Elbow style: “All my saints have taken bribes, singing going, going gone…” As singer Guy Garvey intones a series of setbacks and harsher realities, he asks his romantic partner if he can count on her to be his Everthere. It’s a sweet sentiment, nicely set in a worried framework. The band blend beautiful restraint with just the right soaring touches, underscoring the yearning and hope in the lyrics.

Enjoy this beautiful song today.

Song of the Day, March 6: An Audience With the Pope by Elbow

elbowseldompopeToday’s song is a bit of whimsy with serious consequences. By the time Elbow recorded their fourth album — the Mercury Prize winning The Seldom Seen Kid — they had refined a distinctive sound drawing on many traditions. A finely tuned unit, the quintet blended all their sounds in a smart variety of ways. Singer Guy Garvey famously observed that guitar rock often neglected dynamic range, whereas Elbow wanted each album to be a journey.

An Audience With the Pope is a wry bit of obsession. Garvey sings of a series of obligations, including the titular meeting and “saving the world at eight.” In each case, however, he’ll drop everything “if she says she needs me.” So powerful is the grip of the woman who keeps him waiting that her summons trumps everything. It’s clever, urgent, and nicely delivered.

Enjoy this fun song today.

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