Public Service Broadcasting’s third long player Every Valley, follows a similar path to 2015’s The Race for Space in that the album is centred around a theme (or ’concept’ if you like!), but this time the subject is closer to home, and not only on Planet Earth but under it – as the story focuses on the coal mining industry and its impact on the Welsh Valleys in particular.
Described as a story of industrial decline, as on previous PSB records the album cleverly uses archive and modern speech recordings over mainly instrumental tracks, although more of the tracks on Every Valley have original vocals than on previous albums. The album actually marks the vocal debut of principal songwriter J Willgoose esq., having found nobody quite right to duet with Lisa Jên Brown, of Welsh language folk band 9 Bach, on You + Me, decided to do it himself.
The opening title track Every Valley features layers of strings, subtle guitar and neat drum brush patterns which convey the sound of a lift dropping deeper into the mountain, interspersed with sound clips from real life miners who were interviewed in and around Ebbw Vale, a town in South Wales synonymous with coal mining and industry. It’s here where the album was also recorded. There is some dialogue from legendary Welsh actor Richard Burton, expressing that every little boys’ wish in his village growing up was to be a miner.
From the positiveness of The Pit and People will Always Need Coal, which begins with a beautifully of its time TV jingle designed to attract young men to become miners, things begin to turn darker as the coal industry collapses and the strikes begin, highlighted on Go to the Road and All Out with its almost heavy metal guitar thrash, but not before the uplifting Progress, which features Tracyanne Campbell of indie band Camera Obscura adding backing vocals.
Manic Street Preachers frontman James Dean Bradfield interprets verses from celebrated Welsh poet Idris Davies’ poem ‘Gwalia Deserter’ (Wasteland of Wales) as guest vocalist featuring on Turn No More, which wouldn’t sound out of place on any recent Manic’s album.
The album closes with the Beaufort Male Voice Choir performing a soaring version of miner’s song Take Me Home, whilst the words of the Mother of the Village sink in, “We all thought we would be there for the rest of our lives. But of course, it didn’t turn out like that”.
Every Valley is a brave record in that the subject matter isn’t as broad as their previous offerings, however even if you are not familiar with the story, the music takes you on a fascinating journey which demands repeat listening.
01. Every Valley (4:42)
02. The Pit (4:24)
03. People Will Always Need Coal (4:46)
04. Progress (3:25)
05. Go To The Road (4:16)
06. All Out (3:22)
07. Turn No More (4:35)
08. They Gave Me a Lamp (3:56)
09. You + Me (5:44)
10. Mother Of The Village (3:37)
11. Take Me Home (2:11)
Total Time – 44:58
J Willgoose, Esq. – Guitars, Synths, Percussion, Wurlitzer, Vocals
Wrigglesworth – Drums, Percussion, Glockenspiel, Vibraphone
JFAbraham – Bass, Trumpet, Percussion, Brass Arrangement, String Arrangement
Edward Hallinan – Tuba (1)
Kevin O’Hara – French Horn 1)
Oliver Hickie – French Horn (1, 9)
Craig MacDonald – French Horn (1)
Iain Maxwell – Tenor Trombone (1, 8, 9), Bass Trombone (2)
Barnaby Philpott – Bass Trombone (1, 2, 9), Tenor Trombone (8)
James Pillai – French Horn (1, 9)
Rittipo – Bass Clarinet (2), Tenor Saxophone (4), Baritone Saxophone (4), Alto Saxophone (8)
Toby Street – Trumpet (1, 8, 9)
Abigail Blackman – Cello (1-3, 6, 9)
Emma Bryden – Cello (1-3, 6, 9), String Ensemble Manager
Holly Cook – Double Bass (1, 3)
Katy Cox – Cello (1, 2, 9)
Katey Day – Double Bass (1, 3)
Simon Howes – Violin (1, 2, 9)
Dan Jones – Violin (1, 9)
Bernard Kane – Viola (1, 2, 9)
Sue Lord – Violin (1, 9)
Sarah Loveridge – Violin (1, 9)
Naomi Rump – Violin (1, 2, 9)
January Tewson – Viola (1, 2, 9)
Ian Vorley – Viola (1, 2, 9)
Record Label – Play it Again Sam/PIAS (Independent)
Catalogue#: PIASR970CDX (CD) | PIASR970LP (LP) | PIASR970LPX (Clear LP)
Date of Release – 7th July 2017
– Every Valley (2017)
– The Race For Space (2015)
– Inform, Educate, Entertain (2013)
– The War Room [EP] (2012)