There are times when music just appears out of the blue and floors you, and I remember the first time I heard the song Dinah & The Beautiful Blue by Thomas Feiner – on a late-night radio show in the UK called Late Junction. These gorgeous, surging strings swelled in over the radio, and then in came this remarkable voice, a deep, dark beautiful voice, singing lyrics that read like a strange little nursery rhyme. It just has this other-wordly sort of melancholy, it’s almost like it’s a song coming from a ghost, or from someone leaving their body for a minute and singing down to themselves. My attempts to describe it here are pitiful, but listen to it and I’m sure you’ll see what I mean.
So this in turn led me to his album, which is just a wonderful, wonderful thing. I think there are slightly different versions floating around, the one I have is actually called Opiates: Revised and is a slightly different tracklisting to the original, but it seems to hang together beautifully. I suppose you could loosely call it an album of torch songs – I’ve never quite known what that expression means but it seems to fit. Listen to it at night-time and it’s a magical experience. Everything about the record just takes you into its world – the production is perfect, never over-stated, but you can tell each sound has been really been put down with love, there’s such a warmth and depth to the sound of it. The orchestral arrangements are sweeping but never stifling, and at the same time there’s a starkness to much of the record, eerie sounds creeping through in the background, a knackered old upright piano here, an awkward bassoon there. And lyrics that cut straight to the heart, but yet still have a dreamlike blurriness to them.
I find myself recommending this album to pretty much everyone I meet that loves music. It’s so important to keep making the time to just stop what we’re doing, sit down, turn off our phones, shut down our computers, and just listen to music and lose ourselves in it – and I think The Opiates is a perfect record to do that to.
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