“Beware of drowning”. These should be the words marking the entry to this album by Paddy Mann and by his project, Grand Salvo. Sea Glass represents a unique, immersive experience, probably the most notable one since Carrie & Lowell. Hailing from Melbourne, a city that is known for music, Paddy has a long career behind him. His sound has evolved to a more and more elaborate texture (Nils Frahm collaborated with him for one of his latest albums) which now involves non-Western instruments and a female choir, as well as classical chamber-folk instruments (acoustic guitar, piano, strings, etc.).
One thing that surprises about Sea Glass is its fluency; tracks might skirt the ten minutes mark, but it is almost impossible to tell. There is a rare taste for long-range songwriting, one that involves a cinematic and collective progression of songs, from the spectacular scenography of ‘In The Water’ to the brooding, intimate epic of ‘The Black Coast’, and is reminiscent of the work by Other Lives and Fleet Foxes.
All the beautiful orchestration that is part of the charm of Sea Glass revolves around very solid melodic themes (‘Strange Days’, ‘Field of Flowers’, ‘In The Shade’), strong enough to let Paddy develop a whole musical suite around them. This is the true soul of the record, explaining why it is easy to dwell upon it.
Even in a year that has been very prolific for folk albums involving chamber or even orchestral arrangements, Sea Glass stands out as a work of absolute inspiration, which abounds in detail but is also able to convey emotions and narratives with a strong melodic identity.
Words: Lorenzo Righetto