When Bishopskin released their debut album ‘Ye Olde Britland Isle Bishopskin’ in 2020, they were apparently confused by the traction the album garnered. Listening to that first album through to the new single ‘Lean Closer’, released via Isolar Records, makes this confusion… confounding. From the get-go in the throes of lockdown, Bishopskin, aka singer Tiger Nicholson and guitarist James Donovan, have crafted a through-line of thought-provoking music which is uplifting, but has its darkened corners.
The textures on ‘Lean Closer’ are striking. Each individual element holds its own physical space in the song; something so important for a track multi-layered with guitars, pianos, violins, saxophones, flutes and sound effects (with the help of Black Midi’s Seth Evans, and Fat White Family’s Alex White). What occurs then, is a dense song that never feels too heavy but rather, the opposite. The folkish warmth that makes up most of the track is deceitful in its simplicity. From the jangly piano that fills an empty room in the intro, through to the ‘A Day in The Life’-esque breakdown in the bridge. By the time the song has ended, you snap out of your haze and realise how much has passed by in just five-minutes.
The sudden veer into chaos and back out into resolution could be likened to a car journey – a subject not too far from the song’s inception. Tiger notes that the song came after he was “humbled by [his] failed driving test for the 7th time.” He continues: “I would sit everyday propped up against the pole of the bus stop and watch unfold a scene of pure peace as the sun set over purple frozen hills. I’d sing ‘lord I want to lean a little closer’ shouting my voice like a mad man over the cars. I then recorded a version of it on the top deck of the bus and sent it to James who made this broken man’s worship into the song we have now.”
As Tiger alludes to, if you literally ‘Lean Closer’ into the communitarian lyrics, you’ll notice that many have religious undertones. Yet, this exploration of faith never preaches, but instead thinks out loud. This is only one of the many compelling elements of Bishopskin’s sound that explores a musical landscape tread hundreds of years before, but presents something wholly revelatory.
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