Sunday 5 October 2014

Andrew Montgomery - Ruled By Dreams

The debut album by ex-Geneva, Amityville and St Famous front man Andrew Montgomery has been a very long time coming.  We asked our good friend, and Geneva devotee back in the day, Stewart Howie to review Ruled By Dreams for us.

Those with a good memory might remember Geneva: a quartet of top 40 singles, label mates of Suede from the latter days of Britpop and creators of two albums of soaring melancholy before their untimely demise due to record company ineptitude. If you do remember them, you will definitely recall their lead singer Andrew Montgomery, an astonishing singer with a remarkable range. After a series of collaborations, an absence of some years and a low-key preview of new material in 2012, Andrew is finally back with a new album, Ruled by Dreams. It’s an emotional memorial to love in all its forms and deserves the success and recognition that has eluded such a talent in recent years.

The album opens with the already available taster track, After The Storm, a funereal tale of loss and recovery that reminds this reviewer of the best of Antony & The Johnsons; it’s quite clear that Andrew Montgomery’s unique voice has lost none of its quality or emotion. The sound of footsteps in particular evokes a walk in the park on a wet and cold autumn day dreaming of times past. Themes of regret and love lost continue in Sorry Someday but with a building, catchy pop soundtrack. Andrew’s falsetto has never sounded better and its choice as the first single from the album is a wise one. First previewed at a low-key show in St Pancras Old Church in July 2012, I Sing the Body Electric follows, a swooning and swirling paean to the act of love, underpinned by an elegant piano refrain and luscious slide guitar.

Another stand out track is La Graciosa (an island in the Canaries, apparently), a calypso infused joyful account of times in the sun. The album’s title track is a melancholic look back over the should’ves and could’ves of a doomed relationship. The simple keyboard and guitar backing to the bluesy Making Up for Lost Time lets Andrew’s voice take the forefront in this track as it effortlessly sweeps between octaves that others can only dream of.  The pace picks up again with Memento, a surging and shimmering rocky number driven by guitar. Waiting for Me is a gorgeous metronomic lullaby that gently drifts in until that falsetto kicks in and sends shivers down the back. The shivers continue with Zhivago, a dark orchestral sounding ballad with some fantastic guitar by Richard Oakes. The album closes on a gentle, more optimistic note with Baptismal, a beautiful flowing composition that dates back to 2010, the theme of rebirth seems an appropriate conclusion given what has gone before.

Ruled By Dreams is an album that deserves to be listened to; the sense of loss of love is prevalent throughout but its also a celebration of the joy that comes from a relationship. It’s a desperate shame that it has taken the 14 years since Geneva split for this to be Andrew Montgomery’s debut. His voice is on great form but never overshadows the songs themselves. Sean McGhee’s subtle production compliments the emotional themes of album with Richard Oakes guitar adding occasional touches of beauty.

Ruled By Dreams was produced by Sean McGhee (Robyn, Imogen Heap, Alison Moyet.) The album features Suede’s Richard Oakes on guitar, elegant vocals from Röyksopp & Schiller collaborator Kate Havnevik, plus contributions from Ben Ellis (Catherine Wheel) and Jody Gadsden & Simon Neilson from Autoheart (best known for their 2013 singles ‘Moscow’ & ‘The Sailor Song’.)

Ruled By Dreams is out now.  A limited edition CD and a digital download can be purchased from Andrew's Bandcamp site.

Andrew's website Ruled By Dreams can be found here.  He is also on Facebook and Twitter.

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