Charcoal Owls is the ever-evolving collaboration between musician Tom James Scott and poet/vocalist Russell Walker (Pheromoans, The Bomber Jackets). Their debut LP Tin Roof sees Scott draw on disparate forms – Satiesque minimalism, field recording, abstracted pop and improvisation to converse with the peculiar lyricism that Walker has perfected over his various activities. The result is a warm, absurdist meditation on suburban insecurity and the tragi-comic.
Tin Roof follows two sold out cassette releases on OneC Records and Night People. Opening with a lilting instrumental piece embedded with field recordings, Russell Walker’s narrative begins on 2nd track Artificial Eyes. Soon the listener is drawn into the curious worldview the writer has been expanding on for years, his wonderfully pathetic characters lightning conductors for provincial crisis and every-day profundities. Throughout Tin Roof the listener’s ear is drawn by the juxtaposition of Scott’s minimal melodic lines and Walker’s often downright hilarious verse; “Anxious under tin again, one un-emptied wheelie bin.” There’s a real depth to mine – tracks like Clapham Monster, a one minute diary entry which will make any listener spit out their porridge in laughter, rub up against stark, downright beautiful pieces like I Just Can’t Say When. At another point Grace Period (featuring Rose Keeler on vocals) brings a soothing drone cadence after the acerbic, commuter-angst of Twickenham Slags.
The dichotomies at work on Tin Roof make it a truly unique world. Both sad and funny, minimal and busy, poetic and every-day. Once immersed it’ll be difficult to quite find your way out again.