Home International M G Boulter: A Shadow Falls Over New Brighton

M G Boulter: A Shadow Falls Over New Brighton

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M G Boulter

A Shadow Falls Over New Brighton

Hudson Records

3 June 2022

In April 2021, the singer-songwriter M G Boulter released the rather sublime Clifftown, a beautifully atmospheric and almost filmic collection of tracks that essentially existed as a fictional biography of Boulter’s hometown Southend-on-Sea.

Cut to June 2022, and Boulter returns, inviting us back to his home town for a shorter say – a long weekend perhaps – with an EP that extends the stories of Clifftown: A Shadow Falls Over New Brighton.

It’s a welcome return to a strangely familiar landscape. Boulter’s heartbreakingly realised narratives: beachcombers, “half-spent cigarettes,” raging seas, talk of the war, the excitement of childhood, and the difficulties of old age are tinged with sadness, optimism and a soothing warmth.

Accompanying Boulter is Helen Bell on violin, Harriet Bradshaw on cello and piano, with the talent that is Andy Bell’s overseeing the production. Still, it’s Boulter’s talents as a writer and his mellow, softly intoxicating voice that stand out.

Four tracks make up this jaunt back to Clifftown. The title track, ‘A Shadow Falls Over New Brighton,’ a song that touches on frustrations and violence, is a confident opener. “Men alone are such dangerous things,” sings Boulter over some soft guitar and the strings of Harriet Bradshaw, “they make enemies out of nothing.”

‘Lady Arabella’ takes us back through Southend-on-Sea history, narrating the story of Lady Arabella Stuart, first cousin to King James I. Following her marriage to William Seymour in 1610, a marriage that hadn’t been approved by the Court,

Seymour was imprisoned whilst Arabella planned an escape to France. In June of 1611, she embarked on her getaway, passing through Southend-on-Sea as she did so. Sadly, she was captured before reaching the French coast, brought back to London and imprisoned in the Tower. She died there in 1615.

Boulter tells a tragic tale about Arabella’s bravery and her love for William. Bradshaw’s cello strikes an ominous note throughout, foreshadowing the couple’s ultimate fate.

Bringing Southend-on-Sea’s story up to date, ‘Middle English’ is soaked in seaside suburbia, old age and youth, grandparents and grandchildren, loneliness, isolation, boredom and waiting. It’s a sweetly touching track, a melancholy slice of suburbia, rich with honest and heartfelt detail.

‘Now, It’s So Quiet’ closes the EP. It’s a hopeful closer.; “The smell of forgotten things”, sings Boulter, echoing times past and the power of memory lingers heavily here.

And it’s this essence of reflection that is at the heart of Boulter’s power as a writer – he plays with collective recollections of suburban life and childhood seaside holidays, taking the intrinsically familiar and making them fresh, vital and poetic. The haunting potency of nostalgia lingers long here. It’s an evocative and entirely hypnotic blend.

For listeners hungry for more tales of Clifftown, Boulter has also developed an online resource titled Clifftown Sounds, which collects all the material associated with the original album, including podcast series, maps, essays and recordings.

A Shadow Falls Over New Brighton is out on 3 June. Order via Bandcamp:

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