Dave’s Albums of 2011
4. Diamond Mine by King Creosote & Jon Hopkins
The most beautiful record of 2011, Diamond Mine by King Creosote and Jon Hopkins paints a picturesque ideal of small town Scotland, an image depicted wonderfully by the cover art.
Café background chatter, accompanied by some soft piano chords, opens the record with First Watch, setting the scene firmly in Scotland before we drift seamlessly into the soft strumming of John Taylor’s Month Away. Both songs perfectly highlight the personal feel of the record: by telling tales of real people and real places, like John Taylor going off to sea, losing a no claims after an accident and Kilrenny Church striking three for three o’clock, the album has a real warmth.
Some of the lyrics are wonderful – “growing silver in my sideburns” is my favourite -, although often sad – “I won’t let you fall as low as I’ve been” – and this melancholy tone can be felt in the delicate singing of King Creosote and and the equally beautiful music of Jon Hopkins, which is simple and minimal, yet full of emotion. Each song winds down with a couple of minutes of instrumental, creating a nice rhythm to the record, flowing faintly into the next track, occasionally with the some old radio tuning, birds singing, leaves crunching or jukebox track-changing sounds that are yet further examples of the little touches that make the album so personal.
It is difficult to single out tracks on an album that should be listened to as a whole, but the final two are worth a mention. Your Own Spell is a simple call to “save the water; kill the roses” and is one of the most stripped back and fragile songs on the record – no one would dare cough at a live performance. A little acoustic guitar floats in on final track Your Young Voice before the vocals follow. The guitar then fades away to highlight the singing before that fades to leave the diminished, ever quieter guitar bringing the album to a close.
For such an understated and delicate record, the 32 minute length is just right. It’s a little gem.