This Is Nowhere
Surf’s Up At Last For Northern Irish Troubadour.
I will never tire of boring people of the day I ‘discovered’ Stevie Scullion aka Malojian. I was reviewing the maiden Belfast Skyline Festival in 2013 when both Bap Kennedy AND Anthony Toner recommended him to me as ‘the one to watch,’ and they weren’t wrong.
He stole the show that day and really has gone from strength to strength with his previous two albums; and now just as he appears to think World Wide Musical Domination (or at least being popular in England) is beyond him, by solely concentrating on the Irish market (North and South) he has gone and released this record so low key I nearly missed it.
Earlier this year Malojian threw caution to the wind and flew to Chicago, in the Americas to record these songs at Electrical Audio under the tutelage of legendary producer Steve Albini and the results are…..bloody amazing!
Although I knew this ‘Folk Singer’ always had Pop sensibilities I certainly wasn’t prepared for the title track This Is Nowhere (Aren’t You Lonely?) which opens the record. The harmonies, jaggedly guitars and not least Malojian’s voice, now with a hint of vibrato has all the hallmarks of the only Beach Boys album worth listening to….Surf’s Up but with a very modern twist.
This is immediately followed by I’ll Be Alright, and my head was spinning as I grinned like an idiot. ‘Beautiful’ only goes part of the way to describe this sub three minute multi-layered mini-masterpiece.
Just like on his previous albums Malojian includes a lovely piece of whimsy in the shape of Calling Borneo; although I’d love to read the lyrics s I think there may be a hidden message here somewhere.
I’ve now spent three days listening to snippets of this album at every opportunity and last night was the first time I was been able to listen from start to finish and in that context a couple f songs really took my breath away. I’ll Be Alright with it’s jaunty beat over a deep story touched me in a way very few songs can; it’s as if it was written about me, now. I’m sure many others will feel the same way about it.
I know a lot of time and effort is put into sequencing albums; but it’s normally wasted on the likes of me; but tracks 4 and 5 could be a mini Love Story set to music and are two of Malojian’s finest songs. The first Lean On Me has some very touching lyrics and as it seamlessly glides into You’re a Part of Me my heart was swelling to the size of a football. The latter is my favourite song here; and is absolutely perfect for late night radio with the lights turned down low and you are all alone with your thoughts.
I can’t help thinking Stevie had spent the previous few weeks immersing himself in both Surf’s Up and The Beatles’ Revolver before allowing Steve Albini to provide a Master-class in production and engineering; adding luscious strings when necessary, but only to emphasis the beauty of the song and there is no better example than the finale, where we find the Northern Irish singer-songwriter at the piano on a song that has echoes of Harry Nilsson ….The Great Decline which showcases every single quality this young man has from his voice through his way with the English Language and especially the way he combines both.
This is the album I’d hoped but never dared dream Malojian could and would make and it deserves a much wider audience than just the Emerald Isle…..World Dominance awaits. Trust me!
Released October 7th 2016 (CD, Download and ltd. Edition 12” Vinyl)