Stu G - Of Burdens, Birds and Stars
Last modified: 11 Nov 2013
Sometimes when a band comes to an end, its former members can disappear into obscurity, never to be seen, or more appropriately - heard of, again. But that is one thing that can not be said for Stu G
. For years he was the man behind the guitar in one of the UK's most successful Christian bands of all time. But when Delirious ended, Stu didn't disappear into retirement.
Over the past four years his name has constantly shown up in the credits of other artist's albums, either as producer, song writer or indeed guitarist. Then there is his side-project with One Sonic Society, which has seen him write and record anthemic worship songs with some of the best songwriters around.
But one thing that has been missing until now is, a Stu G solo album. Finally he has recorded a collection of self-penned songs, and released an EP called 'Of Burdens, Birds and Stars
Opening with the slow tempo 'Long Way Down
', Stu's vocals - so long consigned to the role of backing vocalist - have a moody, edgy delivery, with a distinctive twang reminiscent of a Jarvis Cocker or Damon Albarn. "Long way down, I've finally hit rock bottom and it's a long way down
", he sings. As you would expect, the guitars are crystal clear and hit just the right mix between enhancing the song and not overpowering the sound.
'Don't Really Know Me
' has a soft frantic drum beat, almost in a dance anthem style, whilst Stu sings at a hushed, slower rate. The lyrics could almost be a sad look back at the end of his former band, or perhaps just the end of one of life's many chapters. "I really don't want it to end like this, I really don't want to sing the song like this... I thought we understood each other, but we only understood our own point of view."
' begins with a very unusual guitar tone, and has the feel of a stripped down acoustic track, with its simple guitars and beats. As the keyboard sounds are introduced the layers start to build up, before everything is stripped right back down to just a piano. The beat again takes on a much faster tempo than the harmony on 'Carry My Burdens
', which allows Stu's vocals to become the lead instrument for much of the verse.
'King Of The Stars
' is beautiful both lyrically and musically. "So I call on the King of the stars, He knows who you are. To the one who can mend broken hearts and make them perfect again."
The combined dramatic drum beats and soothing guitar sound provide a stunning warmth, and Stu even allows one short indulgence of instrumental interlude as the guitars pick up to produce an incredible tone that floats somewhere between atmospheric and eerie.
You might expect that a man who has made his name as one of the most skilled guitarists in Christian music would record a solo EP filled with screaming electric guitar solos. But this isn't that kind of release, and instead Stu concentrates on his skill as an expert songwriter. With lyrics that explore the stories of his life and experiences, this is an album he understandably describes as "therapy".
Final track 'Little Bird
' is classic singer/songwriter territory. It reminds me of Martyn Joseph, with it's up-close-to-the-mic vocals, plucked guitar and story telling lyrics. The subtle and occasional sound of a cello in the background, performed by the very talented Cara Fox, adds a spine-tingling touch of class to this gentle song of comfort. "So little bird don't worry, little bird don't live in fear. If you need me in a hurry, know that I'll be waiting here."
This is a wonderfully intricate EP of well crafted lyrics, acoustic ingenuity and musical intrigue. At times it is moody and brooding like early Radiohead, at other times its reflective, encouraging or simply the sound of a songwriter laid bare. Many will have followed the career of this uniquely talented man with interest, and now there is a new chapter and a new perspective for his fans to explore.
Review by Dave Wood
King Of The Stars