Interesting to see the views on the new COAST album and the comparisons with the first.
Here's my take on it - mainly a personal view but with an insight into the concept behind it.
The second album is certainly deeper, and perhaps darker, than the first. It was always going to end up that way as it is a direct reflection of the somewhat choppy waters that the band have had to navigate during its conception and creation. It also deals with the pain of the personal loss of a loved one.
I think it's fair to say that the first album was a patchwork 'showcase' of songs that ended up working really well together. In that sense it has a certain simplicity and innocence that makes it more instantly accessible.
The second album is more of a concept album in construction. It's largely about Southampton - a somewhat sprawling urban landscape - most famous for its docks and under achieving football team! It's about the working man (or woman) keeping their nose to the grindstone and, from the band's perspective, it's about looking beyond the city limits and exploring new territories and taking on new challenges.
So, we start off with 'The Caller' - a song about the toils of the manual worker, specifically doffing a cap to generations of miners and the sacrifices they made.
'Road Outta This Town' is about the desire to break away from the shackles of one's hometown and see the world beyond. It's also a reflection on those that have supported your beliefs and dreams for many years but are no longer here to see the results.
'The Turning Stone' brings the sentiments from 'The Caller' closer to home and reflects the 'grindstone' of the daily routine to and from the often mundane day job.
Next up we have 'Fields of Blood'. Again, this song plucks an element from a preceding song (Road Outta This Town) and is about the anniversary of losing a loved one - someone who is no longer here to share your journey and how the pain never goes away.
'The Ghost of Dan the Boy' takes us back to a New Years Eve in Southampton many years ago, where a young boy went missing, feared drowned. He was never found. The song is about letting go of a ghost that has haunted the mind ever since.
'The Beat of You' is more abstract in the context of the album in that it's about relationships and wanting to be with someone that is out of reach. Metaphorically though, you can tie this song in with 'Road Outta This Town' - wanting to be somewhere else with someone else.
'The Docks of My Hometown' is somewhat self explanatory. It reflects on the history of Southampton which is both dark and inspiring in equal measures - from the pounding it received during WWII to the mixed fortunes of the ships that sailed from there.
With 'Victory O' we move from the docks of Southampton to Nelson's flagship the HMS Victory which is berthed just along the coast in Portsmouth. This is a historical song. It's about the battle of Trafalgar but written in the perspective of Lady Hamilton and Lord Nelson
writing to each other in a love letter. The song builds as the life becomes more drained from Lord Nelson who has been injured. Towards the end the song portrays the calm after the storm as the Victory sails away damaged and torn with the Admiral who has just passed away. But Emma Hamilton still lives in hope that he will return alive. This song pays homage to not only British fleets but also the Spanish whom also lost their lives.
And we end with 'Valley High Valley Low' which, fittingly within the concept of the album, is the last song - it is a song of hope. It was written on the road to Scotland just after the floods in Cumbria that year. It conveys the beauty of nature and icy, snowy hilltops in the north of England and Scotland.
In summary, I think the second album has many more layers and depth than the first. The more you peel back the more is revealed. It reflects the dark yet inspiring subject matter and has threads of continuity running through it from beginning to end. It's not just a collection of songs per se - it's an attempt to convey where you've come from, what's happened along the way and where you're going.
One things for sure....I can't wait for the next one!