Band: A Covenant of Thorns
Album: Shadows and Serenades
Label: A Handful of Nothing
Members: Scott-David Allen
Mastered: Gordon Young
So this review is for a wonderful band A Covenant of Thorns which was a late release of 2018. I was lucky enough to get an early copy and have got several listens in the last few weeks. I feel like “goth” music has always had certain concepts or tones that are really getting broken down by a lot of new bands in the scene. One of the things that stood out to me so much in this album was its romantic dark beauty. That feeling in goth of lace, velvet, tortured anguish of love from afar. Such an integral idea associated with the goth movement which the music has seemed to somewhat move on from. Shadows and Serenades is rich with these concepts and since it just isn’t heard as much it made the record sound so fresh. Allen is an amazing song writer and these pop hooks are done with a clarity and quality of production that builds weight to the songs and gives a seamless flow between tracks. It’s not a dynamic album, the feel is very much an even and measured voice. Again I found myself impressed with how effective this was because as a song writer this would be so difficult for me to make drip with emotion and passion like he does.
His voice is a rich, lovely and full of silky crooning. It was stripped down and left bare to the listener. To stand alone against the expertly mixed keyboard swells and driving drum loops. His lyrics were true masterful poetry which rings with clarity and heartbreak. When you have a great vocalist that sings with sensitive beauty it is a true seduction of the listener. That’s how I felt when I heard his voice. It has some tones of Martin Gore. That other side of Depeche Mode too often overlooked. Yet it has it’s own unique quality which made the songs sound very personal. I feel like the singular tempo and feel of the songs really gives you a chance to focus in on the words being sung. Because the lyrics need to be appreciated for themselves. This might be too much info but it has become my favorite bubble bath and bottle of red wine all to myself album. My private treat to me I share with no one. I highly suggest you share it with yourself.
I had some standout tracks I felt really spoke to me:
Torn in Two – The opening track has an upbeat dancy feel reminiscent of New Order technique, with beautifully crafted keyboard leads. Then you hear his voice for the first time and it is transported to a dark and expressive place. “Street lights cast the shadows frozen in time, you don’t want it all you just want whats mine” Gorgeous, the breakdown totally changes the tone to a brighter feel. Masterfully done.
An Open Letter – This is a dark minimalist builder. With simple and elegant keyboard tones. Breathy and shadowed vocals that speak of empathy for someone facing great loss and regret. Then at about 1:16 a new drum beat comes in and adds a tension and pulse to the same gentle feel. Again the work of a song writer who is using craft and experience to create a lovely experience.
The Distance Between us – This is the album closer. Things take a sinister turn here. The vocals come at you through a veil from miles away. About a dying friendship and feelings of betrayal. It’s such an expressive song for an accessible theme so many have felt. Huge keyboard swell for the chorus which gives both hope and defiance. Leaving us on a high note for the future.
Overall this album is a breath of fresh air by using masterfully crafted modern technique and hearkening back to the ancient truth of goth music. A time of beauty, tragedy, darkness, and romance. Song after song tugged at my heartstrings and pulled me back in time for when everything just felt stronger and more intense. I highly recommend taking this journey with Scott-David Allen.