Album of the Week: Scott Lloyd – Waterlands

Posted by Greg on Jun 1, 2022 in Music |

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Arguably the best thing about having a music blog is having unknown strangers send you an album that absolutely floors you. Such is the case with British singer-songwriter Scott Lloyd and his sophomore album Waterlands. At its core it’s coffeehouse folk with a solid backing band. But damn if we don’t love the heck out of it.

Whether its the supple and intimate opener “Meet Me at the Bluebell” or the confident kick of “In the Water” the whole tone of Waterlands is familiar, fresh and ultimately very rewarding. “With Different Eyes” operates as both a love song and a soul care song. Replete with harmonica it’s the kind of thing that could make him quite well known beyond the UK. “Running” is the most accessible of his songs and probably the most full-bodied too.

Ditto for the buoyant and sprite title track which opens with a tinge of Celtic folk and a well-placed fiddle. Richly textured and full-bodied it’s a song that makes one happy to be alive. The moors of the UK are not known for their joy and frolic but Lloyd attempts to change that narrative. Side A’s best track though might just be “Stepping Stones”, which opens misty and ethereal and has a bit of a Sting vibe. No, don’t expect Sting in the vocals or the lyrics, but more the sonic landscape that Lloyd creates. Truth be told, it would be quite a treat to hear more songs textured like this on his next full-length.

The second half of Waterlands is equally strong. “Skylarks” boasts the LP’s strongest lyrics and might just be the best British poem we’ve heard this year. Ostensibly an autobiography of his upbringing it has an authenticity and sincerity that leaves the listener wanting more. That jaunt down memory lane continues on “Old Scrapbook”, which opens not unlike album opener “Meet Me at the Bluebell” but veers away from that and revisits more of the full-band work that teems all over Side A.

There are a few songs on Waterlands that merit repeat listening but “Old Scrapbook” might be the one that bears that title most. The sweetly affecting and borderline saccharine “It’s All For You” is romantic, overwrought and a bit too Hallmark for this reviewer’s likes but the song itself has a towering structure to it that might be worth a repeated listen.

Not content to slow things down “Miss You Dearly” leaps for the same heights as “It’s All For You” but does so more winningly. While it bears the opposite sentiment as its predecessor it still makes absence sound quite gleeful. That duality is usually the tell-tale sign of an artist who knows his way around a song. That’s a statement that holds true throughout all of Waterlands. The LP closes with “California” a traditional coffeehouse folk foray that revisits a trip to the Golden State. While it serves itself well as a closer our only regret about the album is that it didn’t close on a more winning and lasting song.

Small gripes aside Waterlands is an absolute gem. The album dropped in late April but due to our reluctance to listen, we’re a bit late on the draw. The closest example of an artist he sounds like was Long Island’s Kenn Morr. But this is easy listening not unlike David Gray, Damien Rice or Fran Healy. Whether Lloyd ascends to those heights remains to be seen. But for now, it is our Album of the Week.

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