I just wonder if it is possible for Nick Hemming to write an under-par song? On the evidence of The Leisure Society's fourth album, 'The Fine Art of Hanging On' that seems doubtful. Perhaps when the band releases their 20 year celebration box set with some studio outtakes sometime in the distant future, we will find out the answer to that question.
For now rest assured, this is a supremely fine record with classic Leisure Society tunes, harmonies and storytelling that will keep as warm as wrapping yourself in that handmade quilt to ebb out the last days of winter.
The title track which starts the album leaves you with a beaming smile, 'Nothing Like This' has a lounge jazz vibe and 'Tall Black Cabins' a haunting ballad, all highlight the variety and intrigue we have come to expect from a Leisure Society record. This time around we get all that in the first three songs.
It's well documented that the album was written against the backdrop of one of Nick's friend's battling cancer and a more life affirming album you could not wish for. The overall style of the record is typical Leisure Society but there is nothing wrong with that, this band has carved a niche for themselves much like say Belle & Sebastian, both are recognised for a style of music and deliver every time with a real passion for their craft.
The closing and eleventh track on the record, ‘As the Shadows Form’ is a song explicitly about death – intentionally sequenced as a poignant and literal ending - “a full stop” - as Nick describes it. Elsewhere, the ‘hanging on’ theme explores the plight of single boat fishermen.
“I took a visit to Hastings and I noticed several tall black cabins, which inspired the song of the same name. These structures are used by local fisherman for drying their nets. Theirs is a small and shrinking industry, but they have a passion for their trade and keep it going, even though it’s not always financially viable. We recorded the album onto analogue tape at Konk studios and mastered it at Abbey Road Studios. We wanted to make the best record we could, so despite the expense we crafted it in this way - not for money, but for the love of making it.”
'The Fine Art of Hanging On' can mean many things but in terms of song writing and musical performance, this album shows that The Leisure Society are doing anything but that!
1. The Fine Art Of Hanging On
2. Nothing Like This
3. Tall Black Cabins
4. The Undefeated Ego
5. Outside In
6. I'm A Setting Sun
7. You Are What You Take
8. You'll Never Know When It Breaks
9. All Is Now
10. Wide Eyes At Villains
11. As The Shadows Form
The Fine Art Of Hanging On is released on 13th April via Full Time Hobby
There will be UK live dates in April as well;
Mon 13 UK, Bristol, Colston Hall Lantern
Tue 14 Oxford, Oxford O2 Academy 2
Wed 15 London, Islington Assembly Hall
Thu 16 Cambridge, Junction 2
Fri 17 Birmingham, Rainbow
Sat 18 UK, Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
Mon 20 Manchester, Deaf Institute
Wed 22 Glasgow, Oran Mor