45 years in 45 minutes
This pretty much sums up Songs of Loss, the debut album by A Permanent Shadow. A name that refers equally to areas of the moon untouched by sunlight, the after-effects of nuclear disaster and human skin peculiarities, for the band’s founder it represents melancholy, nostalgia and other sentiments usually traceable on the darker side of human life. The ten songs on the album take us on a musical journey through the life of its creator. Lyrically the record portrays the lives of personalities that have inspired the author, some of them very close, some of them family, others fictitious.
A Permanent Shadow is a band for want of a better description. Its only fixture is CP Fletcher who for the recording of the record surrounded himself with a rotating cast of musicians and producers. Albert Català, a classically trained piano player, helped CP whip the demos into shape. The finishing touches in the studio were provided by renowned producer Valentín Nieto. The album was recorded in Barcelona over the course of several months from Spring to Autumn 2018, with Albert Català on piano, synthesizers and keyboards and Valentín Nieto covering guitar, bass and additional keyboards. Joel García, Joao Vieira and Sergi Carós, musicians from the local Rock and Jazz scene, contributed additional guitar, drums and bass, respectively. Doris Almansa added backing vocals. Cellist Didac Ledesma features on a couple of songs. The latter had been working with CP before in a heartfelt tribute to a huge musical influence.
CP took his first steps as a frontman forming a Lou Reed tribute project, The Magic and Loss Orchestra. Such is his admiration for the curmudgeon from New York that the tribute experience ended up bleeding into A Permanent Shadow via a cover of Sword of Damocles, originally featured on Reed’s Magic and Loss album and included on Songs of Loss in a reworked form. The album also features a reading of See the Lights by another of CP’s heroes, Simple Minds. Both fit seamlessly into the record’s overall themes of loss and reflection.
Speaking of heroes, an ode to CP’s biggest hero, David Bowie, is the album’s centrepiece. The song Sailor contemplates the influence of Bowie not just on CP but on various generations of misfits, as well as the impact of his untimely passing. Songs of Loss, however, not only mourns the loss of loved ones. Losing faith, the fear of solitude and experiencing failing health are other themes the album explores. A sixteen-year-old might not relate to them. People of a certain age and experience hopefully will.
And then there’s the music. A blend of old and new, the songs draw from the likes of (in no particular order) Iggy Pop, Scott Walker, Gary Numan, Yellow Magic Orchestra, David Sylvian and Nine Inch Nails as well as more recent bands like Editors, Interpol and Franz Ferdinand among many others, encompassing post-punk, funk-punk and synth-pop.
Songs from the heart. Songs of Loss by A Permanent Shadow.