Album cover: Orlando Weeks: A Quickening

Orlando Weeks’s first outing as a solo artist is not so much an album as a song cycle. Inspired by the months leading up to the birth of his first child, it coheres as a single piece of work, both lyrically and sonically, creating a dreamy, magical soundworld in which, although each track is distinct and discrete, the songs seem to drift into each other.

Weeks’s former band, The Maccabees, broke up in 2016-17; although essentially a guitar-based indie outfit, they were among the more inventive exponents of the genre. But here, Weeks virtually abandons the guitar — there are mere flutterings of acoustic here and there — using a sonic palette that combines warm pulsing electronica with acoustic instruments: piano, trumpet, woodwind. Songs are loosely structured, at times almost abstract, crescendoing and plateauing in bursts of intensity, as on the blissful “Safe in Sound” with its ribbons of trumpet, or the serenely beautiful “None Too Tough”. One song, “Milk Breath”, depicts the blissful state of life after birth, but mostly this is about anticipation.

Weeks’s tenor voice, familiar from The Maccabees, here acquires an almost chorister-like purity and innocence, adding to the sense that for him, his partner and, especially, his child, this is the start of a remarkable new adventure. Last year, Weeks took part in a concert in London paying tribute to Mark Hollis, the late singer and songwriter behind Talk Talk, and the spirit of Hollis is scattered throughout this album in its abstractness, its trumpet and woodwind, and in Weeks’s dreamy voice. These elements coalesce into something that is best described as amniotic.

★★★★☆

A Quickening’ is released by Play It Again Sam

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