"To Build A Home," which opens the new album from The Cinematic Orchestra, is extraordinary. A piano signature already heavy with melancholy provides the bed on which Patrick Watson's even more achingly beautiful singing voice lies. Altogether, it's moving enough to make you sorrowful on the sunniest of days.
The man behind The Cinematic Orchestra, Londoner Jason Swinscoe, is acclaimed for marrying near-horizontal jazz-tinged rhythms to widescreen ambition on previous stand-out records Motion and Every Day. In a development to the successful sound, Ma Fleurâ€”inspired by his time living in Paris before he based himself in New Yorkâ€”adds a potent dose of raw emotion. True to the name, the record was also written as a soundtrack to screenplay for an imagined film that may yet be made.
Despite failing health, soul heroine Fontella Bass makes a welcome return, while Mercury-prize nominated Mancunian Lou Rhodes lends her vocals to a couple of tracks, including the duet "Music Box" with the aforementioned Watson. It's his inclusion that really lifts things, as the Montreal native has such an enchanting voice.
As a whole, Ma Fleur is a poignant, soulful record, and I'd love to see the movie it's meant to soundtrack. It's released on 7 May 2007.