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Saint Saviour leaves the dourness for warmth on Sunseeker


Release date: 22 March 2024
Saint Saviour Sunseeker cover
20 March 2024, 09:00 Written by Matt Young

As the shuffling drums and gently strumming guitars of “Better Than” open up this fourth album from Becky Jones, aka Saint Saviour,

She sings melodiously along in a calm, considered fashion sounding bright and sparkly. It’s been quite a while since we’ve heard new music from her but this is such a huge departure from the previous more downbeat and even challenging music Jones has released to date that it’s a bit surprising.

Unlike the complex electro-precision of 2020’s Tomorrow Again Jones presents Sunseeker in a looser, more organic-sounding palette, as a collection of airy odes with more positive outlooks on all aspects of life. We’re entering the golden hour complete with softer, dreamlike optics. The bouncy pop song “Let’s Go Outside” is a breath of fresh air, an opportunity to touch the grass, get away from it all and escape the post-pandemic hangover, grief and the addition of giving birth. Although the breathy, relaxed feel and delivery are all-encompassing there are lyrically darker subjects tackled. Jones has never shied away from singing candidly about mental health. Here, describing motherhood in “A Picture Is All I Have” she jousts and duets with Orlando Weeks while addressing the loss of her mother and grandmother in the context of taking on that mantle herself. It’s deftly handled and not in the least maudlin instead feeling empowered despite any residual sadness, Weeks’ sorrowful moans over the chorus remain chilling though.

There are a few duets on the album besides Weeks. There’s the whirling, disorienting musical carousel of “Not Nothing” with album producer and collaborator Bill Ryder-Jones. The track feels like spinning giddily in a meadow in the summer, head back, smiling face to the sun and becoming lost in a moment of joyous thought. There’s a mild hangover afterwards though a slight nauseous feeling until you regain your composure. In “I Just Can’t Take the Risk” Becky Jones describes the anxiety of opening up, reaching out with Jadu Heart’s warm tones attempting to reassure while maybe conspiring to persuade.

Working with Ryder-Jones again – he also produced 2014’s In The Seams – was a creative collaboration that opened up Jones’ ideas and melodies. Her songwriting is far less dense and benefits from the decorative touches and musical colours that complement instead of muddying the sound. A case in point is the standout track “Poetry”, a sparser composition initially with Jones’ vocals stronger in the mix as she reminds one of the lighter somnolence of Nick Drake’s output and 60s baroque pop music. The track grows with added drones vibrating and brass accents. Trumpets, strings and cello skillfully punctuate many other songs on the album too never allowing the mood to dip or dwell.

It’s clear that joy and optimism are deliberately given the spotlight throughout Sunseeker and if it doesn’t come naturally it has been worked at, not so much faking until you make it but focussing on conscious change, reprogramming the synapses of the mind. The result is an album that sounds reconciled and resilient. There are some moments where the mood from track to track is almost indistinguishable but contentedly basking in happy emotions and memories can be exactly like that, an elongated haze stretched out. Saint Saviour has let the light in and it’s here to be shared and enjoyed.

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