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Sister John

I Am By Day (Last Night From Glasgow)

By • Jul 14th, 2021 • Category: Album review

This record is hotly anticipated, given that the previous two were so good – and it does not disappoint!

Released again on the mighty Last Night From Glasgow label, this album shows Sister John’s increasing depth and immersion in their music and also pulls out some interesting new directions from their trademark sound. The members of the band – Amanda McKeown as songwriter and vocals, joined by Jonathan Lilley, Sophie Pragnell and Heather Phillips, all play their part in these increasingly sophisticated songs.

Opener ‘I’ll Be Your Life’ starts with an oscillating keyboard but soon gets into a pretty heavy Velvets-esque groove. It is just classic songwriting, with some offhand lyrics which just ooze coolness, with references to “the wife”, a proud declaration of self-belief, along with a great thrumming guitar solo – what more could anyone want?

‘In My Place’ is more upbeat, exploring themes of identity, self-image and all to a rollicking sequence of riffs and a pounding beat, while the third tune is more fiddle-heavy, with Heather’s great sweeps of strings, but also adds in a lot more percussion…

Initially ‘What I Want’ sounds like we’ve pressed the wrong button and it’s Ladytron, but nope it’s still SJ, with some electronics making an appearance, also some sampled vocals – it’s a move that shows their confidence as a band, and yet it really works. Bring out the glowsticks and head for the Slam tent…

Previous single ‘How Can I Keep it Alive‘ is a slow-burning classic, and is followed by ‘The Bud’, which starts with a great guitar riff and then reverts to a wee chorus line, great, and lets the band stretch their instrumental legs in a melodic workout…

Next track up starts with keyboards, and electronic percussion again, and paints a picture of summertime in Glasgow, or maybe somewhere else – in lockdown time perhaps, but references to the “drive to stay alive” and “did two things to seem productive…”

And as we get towards the end, ‘The Sound of You’ is confessional and Amanda’s singing is just beautiful… This track is just sheer class, timeless as well. ‘Over Again’ is initially without percussion and comprises voice, a few piano chords and a growling bass – it is not happy but is just sublime, in the playing, the singing, the instrumentation…

Album closer ‘Glasgow is a Rainbow’ is back to more of a country vibe, with the band in full flow, and it is a lot more optimistic, with quite some singalong bits. It is a triumphant and valedictory song and it also serves as a valediction for the band as a whole, producing music which transcends the everyday, and yet comes from the everyday – their best work yet.

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