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Goodnight Lenin - In The Fullness Of Time

"In The Fullness Of Time"

Release date: 24 November 2014
Goodnight Lenin In The Fullness Of Time
18 November 2014, 11:30 Written by Dan Owens
In recent times, the blues-country cocktail of Americana has undergone a bit of a revival. Yet, excepting the Springsteen-sized epics of Adam Granduciel-led neo-proggers The War On The Drugs, its re-emergence has been mostly conceived from outside of North America, with Swedish sisters First Aid Kit and London’s Dry The River, leading the charge. Midlands-based five-piece, Goodnight Lenin - touring buddies with the two aforementioned - are the latest European act to take up the genre’s contemplative mantle and, with the help of cult folkie Jonathan Wilson on mixing duties, crank the straw-chewing sentimentality up to eleven on In The Fullness of Time.

But, how, the naysayers cry, can an Americana record created away from the sun-dappled decks and the lonesome dust roads that plague the States even begin to sound authentic? Aside from any legitimacy gleaned from Wilson’s input- an artist who himself has worked with musicians of legendary stature in the form of David Crosby and Graham Nash (also perennial Goodnight Lenin favourites- the band even released a Record Store Day single comprised of two Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young covers) - that question can be answered by perusing the album’s lyrical content. Wade through the words and you’ll come across several recurring themes- the very same that hide in the work of Neil Young and Emmylou Harris- those of loss, hardship, heartbreak, rejection. Issues that are symptomatic of all human experience, the things that can be encountered by anyone whether it’s Nebraska or Nuneaton they happen to call home.

Mixed with an immediately noticeable penchant for expansive, multi-layered soundscapes, the universality of John Fell’s wounded musing certainly dwarfs any sort of authenticity argument. Lead single, “You Were Always Waiting”, floating in on polished guitars, talks in some sort of gruff, love-addled blindness of "taking you away from here" as ringing piano keys fill in the gaps left by his sighs. Broad and unoriginal sentiment aside, Fell’s art is far from hackneyed. As the author of a song that seems ready-made to slay stadiums, it’s easy to see that he prizes resonance over complexity.

Comparatively, “Weary” whizzes by at twice the speed, replacing its predecessor’s gentle twinkle with harsh organ stabs on a doomed tale of love unfulfilled that brings romance to the fore. As love songs go, its warped wisdom calls to mind an impish Bob Dylan’s poetic rebuttals. Continuing this confused amorousness on “A Cautionary Tale”, which recounts a lover’s tiff played out by candlelight and “Carry The Burden of Youth In Your Heart”, a trebly dissection of a broken soul, Fell has no reservations about dishing the intimate dirt on his past (or present) relationships, his frequent eruptions into angst-cleansing choruses a very public form of catharsis.

True to a brand of emotional exposure that originated in the emaciated shadow of the ‘60s dream, it’s not only the eulogising of real life taking its toll that Goodnight Lenin steal from their cherished decade of the ‘70s. Towards the back end of the album, they boost the volume on “Old Cold Hands” and “The Reason”, placing guitars front and centre in homage to the prog virtuosos that came to treat the studio as a playground as the decade clicked into gear. But for an album that feels, for the most part, extremely disciplined, the appearance of a prolonged solo is a luxury that it’s at perfect liberty to afford.

At one moment tear-jerking and the next triumphant, In The Fullness of Time manages to bottle the formula that made original Americana so compelling. Anyone privy to guitar strings and a break-up can sing the blues, Goodnight Lenin just happen to have bigger hearts than most.

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