It has been a good EIGHT years since Alistair Griffin’s debut album Bring It On! For a musician who had two top 20 hit singles, who wouldn’t expect an astounding sophomore album especially after disappearing for so long.
Good news is, Griffin has released his album number two Albion Sky, which was produced together with Ed Buller, the award-winning producer best known for his work with indie rock band White Lies and the ever legendary Suede. And bad news being, the album of 12 tracks doesn’t seem to completely measure up to the sound of how impressive it is.
Let’s see. The opening track on Albion Sky is Blinding Lights. A very upbeat one which caught me off-guard! I was expecting something less intense for an opener instead. Another thing that caught me by surprise was the heavy usage of synth! Nonetheless, it is a fantastic start to the record! Co-written with fellow Yorkshire singer-songwriter Benjamin Leftwich Francis, Blinding Lights has a very catchy and memorable chorus. Loop it and it will be in your head for a long time.
Next we have Just Drive. This is the song that shot Griffin back onto the charts again after it was being picked to be the title music for Formula 1 2012. It was released as a single in 2010 and successfully peaked at 38 on the UK charts. His refrains “I'll take this ride / And just drive” and the anthemic sound throughout the song made it sound motivating and gospel-like at the same time. Speaking about the song, he said it is about the freedom of the road and pushing yourself to the limit. Sharing the same energy as Just Drive is Save This Day. Both songs have soaring choruses and are one of those very life-affirming tracks. They show the power together with the delicacy of Griffin’s vocals and they work as standout tracks off the album.
Chemistry is a wildcard on Albion Sky, a catchy feel-good pop track that you would add to your SONGS OF GOOD FEELINGS playlist.
Just when I thought Albion Sky is all about the perfect, feel-good pop songs album, there comes Silent Suicide, a darker track amongst the rest. It felt really honest and for some reason I put it on loop for a while. Griffin admitted that it was written at a point where he feel ‘totally lost’. Should you have bad days and need time to space out into the abyss, Silent Suicide works well.
All in all, this album didn’t really leave any impression. But if I must, it feels like a gospel record. Albion Sky is brutally truthful, honest and has a personal touch to it. Free from auto-tune (very surprising, given the tsunami of artists who have succumbed to it already), you can hear the soul and depth of Griffin’s voice. The record does not have any poetic lyrics nor any special sounds but its elaborate tunes and simple lyrical approach has redeemed itself for the lack. This is a decent pop record for a mature singer-songwriter and I would say yes, spin it!