The piano riff for River was one of those that we had seemed to have toyed around with for years. In our experience, songs write themselves very quickly - almost instantaneously. But this one was reluctant to develop. Obstinate.
It was only when the three members of Fine Soft Day re-united in the long, dry summer of 2018 that the song, appropriately enough, began to flow. But we had no idea that it would develop into a whole concept album.
River was the first song that we, as the new version of the band, actually wrote together. Other material that we had been working on last summer were songs that we had written individually over the intervening period since our gigging years of the early 2000's. This one felt different.
It wasn't just the musical style that was different to what we had done before. It felt like it was on a different scale. Previously, we had restricted ourselves to a stripped down sound. Although we were multi-instrumentalists, we didn't use many keyboards in the old days. Occasionally in recordings, but never in a live set. We would include flute, violin, mandolin, alongside the ubiquitous bass, guitars and drums, but we had always steered clear of piano arrangements.
This time, it felt different. Everything on our forthcoming album has been written, arranged, performed, recorded and mixed by the three of us. We were leaning towards richer, fuller arrangements.
The influences of music we had loved all our lives was seeping through our writing now. Genesis, Yes and Pink Floyd to mention a few.
All the music was recorded in our conservatory studio on the edge of the Peak District, with a springer spaniel at our feet supervising every session, crows circling noisily high above the glass roof defending their tree-top perches and a steady supply of blueberries and cornish pasties.
River was our first "epic" song, as the piano theme expanded into a powerful, guitar-led piece that introduced several melodic and thematic ideas that would recur over the rest of the songs on the album. It was the first time that we had experimented with combining simultaneous solo passages to create dissonance and harmony. It felt like a real scene setter.
We had an idea of a story, which we thought could possibly extend over three songs. Well, not so much a story with a narrative, but a juxtaposition of ideas and ideals. Not political or judgemental, but an examination of the passage of time and the sense of place.
How two very different people could stand on the same place on the earth, in different eras, and perhaps feel some sort of connection. There are strong themes that re-occur throughout the album. The river flowing, the passing of time, the common problems in two very different societies and lifestyles, darkness and light, faith and dreams.
Weaving time and space
The river flowing through this place
Joins the highlands to the sea
Weaves what was with what will be
Before this place was ever named
Before this space was ever framed
The town that grew around this place
Just another changing face
But the spirit's always there
Draws a circle around the square
Streets and houses come and go
But the earth will always know
High above the river plain
Circles freely as she flies
On the free wind ever higher
He leaves the house he can't call home
Drives his car across the town
On the bridge, the traffic's slow
The river runs its course below
Clicking on the sleeping screen
Thinks of all this place has seen
As she glides through time and space
She sees this ever changing pkace
Retains the spirit of this place
Bursting through the screen
The man who dreams the man who's seen
Sings his ghost dance to the free
The video is made from photographs taken during a road trip from Washington DC to San Francisco. You may recognise some places along the way! Let us know.
It would be great if you would help us by subscribing to our new YouTube channel. We'll be adding more content over the next few months as our album is released.
River is already available on the usual digital platforms such as Spotify, Google Play, Amazon Music and Apple Music (coming very soon!). Just search for Fine Soft Day, and don't forget to follow us. We really appreciate your support.
The album will be released in early summer 2019. We can't wait to share it with you.
Fine Soft Day