[sic] Magazine

Last Days – Seafaring

Coming full circle?

Last Days fifth album is a return to the ‘Sea’ motif of his 2006 debut. Having subsequently explored the land, the past and the heavens, Seafaring places us back upon water, arguably the most appropriate backdrop for Graham Richardson’s contemplative ambience.

Is this a direct sequel to Sea? I don’t think so. That was second album These Places Are Now Ruins. Indeed each subsequent album has been a ‘sequel’ of sorts. Drawing a line back to Sea would be an obvious move and not entirely without merit. However, though all the Last Days albums are linked, Seafaring somehow had to come fifth. It makes more sense. Richardson threw his net wider on The Safety Of The North, wider still on Satellite. Seafaring has a tighter, ‘back to basics’ feel. On hearing it for the first time I went on a Last Days marathon, playing all the records back to back. Seafaring feels the most minimal of them all and that’s saying a lot. This latest album is a gentle, subtle record. There are no great crashing overtures here, rather dignified contemplation, beauty and wonder. Little things go a long way on this record. Witness the brass on ‘Weddell Sea’, the field recordings that accompany the epic ‘Fading Shore’ and that burst of melodic optimism that is ‘Murmurations’.

The whole record has a quiet majesty.

Having grown up living by the ocean myself, the horizon has always been a source of comfort and inspiration to me. That vast, dramatic boundary represents a border between the knowable and unknowable, between limitation and possibility. Often obscured and certainly never appearing the same way twice, the horizon remains ever-present helping us to make sense of the world, plus, of course, ourselves. Last Days music is no different. If his albums often take the guise of thematic voyages then these journeys are metaphorical of personal processes Richardson has undergone.

As someone who has reluctantly left the seaside and indeed my own country to live and work elsewhere this music resonates profoundly with me. I will never forget the pang of nostalgia and regret that I felt parked, with a loaded car at Dover Ferry Port, departing England permanently. Those iconic white cliffs seemed to symbolize home, family and friends. Was I doing the right thing? Doubts crept into my thoughts. However as the boat approached the French coast I saw, of course, white cliffs. I knew somehow, everything was going to be okay. Last Days music pulls the same trick. It takes us away and it leads us back, mended, if not whole then at least with the strength and courage to go on.

These are records about hope.

Find Out More

Satellite review