One of the few things that truly helped me through the first few months of the original lockdown all that time ago was Mr. Alec Bowman’s debut album I Used to be Sad but Then I Forgot – an album that drew comparisons to the likes of Nick Drake and Leonard Cohen. Now he returns, happily married (hence the change of name) and now living in Scotland, with this five track EP of wonderful songs. His humanity, warmth and humour shines through in all the tracks, even when the subject matter explores rather darker subjects.
The opener, ‘Deleted Scenes’, begins and ends with the tape clicking off. In-between there lays a three minute track that warms the soul and lifts the spirit. “I want to see, under the skin/Between the lines…play me all the deleted scenes”. A song about finding meaning in life, in yourself and in the relationships you build. Ably assisted by his wife Josienne Clarke, who also produces the set, and friend Lukas Drinkwater throughout, Bowman_Clarke has a happy knack of finding the beauty in the bleak.
This is none more better delivered than on ‘The Ghosts of Mistakes’, where he seeks to “feather the nest/everything needed for a comfortable death” his deadpan delivery set to the sparse backing of clarinet and guitar. Bowman_Clarke is also a photographer and a filmmaker and this shines through in his lyrics, his eye for detail, his way of framing things to make them sound both mundane and mystic. “Imagine a mirror that remembers what you see” opens ‘A Red Light in a Darkroom’.
Clarke provides clarinet and subtle saxophone solos that lift the songs to another level. The songs were recorded in just three days at Drinkwater’s Polyphonic studio, and the quick turnover means that these songs sound alive and vital. These are songs that aren’t about lockdown, but are certainly shaped about trying to escape the confines of whatever situation you’re in. Some of these tracks would’ve fitted his debut album, but his songwriting has certainly grown and evolved. These are beautifully delivered tracks that deserve a wider audience. I would recommend that everyone should listen to both his releases, as they make very happy unhappy bedfellows.