Album review – P.D. Liddle ‘Casual Labour’

It’s one of this year’s best modern folk records. 

ex-Dry the River member P.D. Liddle has released his beautiful modern folk album Casual Labour earlier this month. Composed in his spare time while studying law in a box room in Bristol with vocals recorded in the early hours of the morning, Liddle has delivered a record that shows maturity with stories about love and loss.

About Casual Labour, he says: “When I was younger, I thought you wrote about the big events and huge milestones in your life – that you need emotional peaks and troughs to inspire you, but just participating in daily life is much more inspiring for me… The ethos of this record was if it’s really difficult, you’re not doing it right. If you’re having to push hard against something it’s probably not working. It was finding the path of least resistance… It’s been a nice journey, discovering that.”

Completed in just under five days and featuring members of Dry The River joining him on bass (Scott Miller), keys (Patrick Pearson) and strings (Will Harvey), Casual Labour kicks off with first single You Shouldn’t Have Called. It sets the tone nicely for the record with its mellow melodies and Liddle’s soothing vocals.

Third track Naica which, much like You Shouldn’t Have Called, has a traditional folk feel to it that’s filled with musical elements you may only notice at your third or fourth listen. This is the case for much of the album – by all means, if you like modern folk, you will instantly fall in love with it but it will continue to grow on you the more you listen to it. You will find new parts of songs to adore that you hadn’t noticed before.

As you ease into Excalibur the melodies become slightly darker and vocal echoes that give the song an eerie feel. The chanting o’s in the chorus add the medieval feel of the song. It’s without a doubt one of the best tracks on the record. Undoing The Damage then picks up the pace again. The album’s title track is lyrically sharp combined with the soft folk melodies you’ve by now have come to know and love. “The curse of the English is never to think when you speak” Liddle calls out about his own nation, and maybe also taking a closer look at his own flaws.

“When I was younger, I thought you wrote about the big events and huge milestones in your life – that you need emotional peaks and troughs to inspire you, but just participating in daily life is much more inspiring for me. The ethos of this record was if it’s really difficult, you’re not doing it right. If you’re having to push hard against something it’s probably not working. It was finding the path of least resistance…it’s been a nice journey, discovering that.” Liddle adds about the record.

Casual Labour is one of the best modern folk albums 2018 has had to offer so far, and it is safe to say there will be a whole lot of great stuff coming from P.D. Liddle.

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