Air In The Lungs is the new project put together by Deborah Arnott, best known for being part of Edinburgh bluegrass duo Blueflint. Yet, and this is no criticism of either act, this self-titled album sounds nothing like Blueflint, the only connection being Arnott’s gentle Scottish lilt and her finely crafted songwriting.
Interviewing her towards the end of last year for God Is In The TV, she told me about how the songs were originally written by her on guitar, then further evolved working with synth player Pat McGarvey (also her husband) and drummer and percussionist Rich Kass and was awarded funding from Creative Scotland to make the album with producer Paul Savage.
What we have on this album is a lyrically honest and musically atmospheric exploration of themes such bereavement, adversity and hope. Opening with ‘You Didn’t Know,’ an electronica-infused dark alternative rock song, with a spectacularly edgy undercurrent. This is in sharp contrast to the Belle and Sebastian meets Stereolab indie-pop of next track and former single ‘19.’ Maybe it shouldn’t work – yet it does, one of many facets of this album’s strength is that it’s perfectly sequenced.
Not only that, but it’s also worth bearing in mind the different approaches to songs here. The track ‘Burn The Clocks’ addresses worker’s rights, and is partly delivered as a spoken word piece. As with the two previously mentioned tracks, there is nothing else like this on the rest of the album, which benefits from not having ten songs in the same vein at any point, thus keeping the listener focused. The comparatively folky ‘Sweet Is The Dream’ was the first track to be released from the album, and it’s like being given a warm hug, before it makes way for ‘First Light’ which mixes trip-hop with the magnificent, brooding melancholy Scottish musicians do so well (I’ve lived here for many, many years – I suspect it may well be related to the weather).
The album closes with the brooding ‘Loch Linnhe’ which tells the tale of visiting an aunt in the Highlands in years gone by. It’s example of storytelling that’s very evocative in its detail, I am not the only one who remembers older cars with no seatbelts in the back and those same cars being a nightmare with upholstery that you would stick to in hot weather! Not details you often hear in a pop song – and it’s features like that which make this a delightfully original album.
An excellent album, debut or otherwise. I hope there will be more from her before long.