Tenement & Temple
Tenement & Temple
Ethereal 1960’s Influenced Country That is Actually Quite Perfect For Today.
Just like in the days of yore, when he dallied in Record Shops on Saturday afternoons, I’m still guilty of ‘judging an album by the cover’; especially when I don’t know the artist/band in question. Which is why I’ve picked up on this rather delightful release from Scotland’s Tenement & Temple aka Monica Queen and Johnnie Smillie from Glasgow’s seminal band Thrum …….. which is just a plain brown card sleeve encasing a disc meant to look like an LP.
Where to start?
The beginning, I suppose.
Opening song Loving Arms is a sweeping 1960’s influenced, harmony drenched Countryesque song that is so lush you will find yourself swooning with delight as Monica uses her pearlescent voice in a way I’ve not heard since I first discovered Emmylou or more notably Miss Margot Timmins.
While there are plenty of other influences for the lazy reviewer to dwell on; I can’t get past Monica’s own amazing voice and Smillie’s supportive production; plus his intricate guitar playing; especially on Ripa and Especially I Know.
For an album that is quite intense and ethereal, there’s the distinct feeling that the duo are having the time of their lives creating music that is deeply moving and which they obviously love.
It’s not clear who wrote what, as I instantly recognised a couple of songs ……. the Murder Ballad, Where The Wild Roses Grow first made famous by Nick Cave and Kylie (which sounded nothing like this haunting beauty) and, of course Blue Moon, which finds Tenement & Temple joined by RMHQ favourites Strange Blue Dreams which is not a million miles away from the Cowboy Junkies version.
Of the others, which may or may not come from Johnnie Smillie’s vivid imagination, the waltz tempo of 10 More Years would have been something my Mother would have adored and One Room House finds the couple dabbling in George and Tammy territory and coming out unscathed; while It’s Been a While Lord sounds like something Dolly would have recorded in the 60’s; but wouldn’t have sounded this good!
Then of course there is the stunning I Only See Your Face in the Dark; which is the RMHQ Favourite Song here, and it’s something of a cornerstone for the album itself, as sweeping strings compliment Monica Queen’s beautiful vocals on a very complex arrangement that somehow makes an ‘old fashioned’ Country song sound very, very contemporary indeed, which is quite an achievement for all concerned.