Invisible Hands Music
The finest set of miserable and sad songs you might ever hear
When I was a teenager in the 1970’s and discovering grown up music via my brothers record collection I stumbled upon Randy Newman – LIVE and it was like nothing I’d ever heard before. Newman’s droll delivery and wickedly sharp lyrics subsequently opened the door for the likes of Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen and latterly the Handsome Family no one has come close to that trio until Mishka Shubaly.
As soon as Shubaly’s grainy, lived in voice comes into play after 20 seconds of opening track Pickup Lines I knew I was going to love whatever he sang; and his whip sharp lyrics and observations are a bonus beyond belief.
I have to warn you here; before we go any further 99.93% of music lovers will hate this album, but those of us who ‘get it’ will treat these 12 songs as hand cut diamonds and only bring them out on truly special occasions; as they are the total antithesis of Easy Listening.
All of the songs here were written during and about an incredibly dark part of the songwriter’s life when Alcoholism and drug abuse took over his life; and he’s over that now, but thankfully was convinced by a friend to record these songs and release them into the wild to see if they could find homes with lovers of the dark side of life; and boy am I grateful.
I may run out of hyperbole here; because each song is genuinely a different version of ‘brilliant’ in its own way. Starting with Your Stupid Dreams which features Erik Nickerson on a church organ as Shubaly compares his life to a baby in a crib that actually has a career path and ‘dreams’ ahead of them, while he has already pissed it all away; but as he says ‘Your Mum can say what she likes/about how I wasted my life/but I had so much fun burning out at 29!’
Nickerson’s production is pitch perfect throughout; allowing Shubaly’s weary voice to shine through the fog of his words; no better example springs to mind than on the anti-love song Taxes & Jail which will have tears running down your cheeks as you snigger when he sings ‘Let us raise a glass to disappointment.’
You haven’t got the time nor inclination to read my descriptions of each and every song; but titles like Depravity’s Rainbow, Alcoholism and the minor masterpiece F#ck Self-Control tell you as much as you need to know before parting with your hard earned cash.
I can’t let you go without mentioning two songs – the opening line of Frankenstein Heart had me rewinding the track three times so I could be sure to get the words perfectly correct so I could re-tweet them to the world. Who among us isn’t going to absolutely love a song that begins with ‘If my heart was a horse they would shoot it!’ Come on; how good is that line? The song; which is full of dirty guitar licks actually goes uphill from there…trust me.
By the time I got the final track I was actually afraid it couldn’t live up to the title; but Your Plus 1 at My Funeral does, and it has the perfect mix of funereal organ, guitar and drums to make me be tempted to put in my Will to be played at my very own funeral.
Mishka Shubaly has completely turned his life around since writing these songs and is now a celebrated writer; so I don’t think he will write and/or record anything as dark as the songs on Cowards Path; nor would I want him to, as he had to live this life before writing and recording the songs; and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. But this genuinely is bordering on an utterly brilliant album.
Released April 20th 2015