Lodge is the third (and final) album by Lone Wolf aka Paul Marshall. The idea for the album came after Paul found out that the place where he had recorded the majority of his material as Lone Wolf, a studio called The Lodge in Bridlington, was set to close it’s doors for the last time.
Holed up inside The Lodge studio with only his producer, James Kenosha and trumpeter David Wärmegård for company over a six day period, Lodge is the result of this organic recording process.
One stylistic choice that immediately jumps out is the absence of guitars on the album – Lodge is pretty much piano, voice, trumpet and percussion. It is also noticeable early on how the sound of the room has been captured – clicks, scrapes, amplifier crackles, feet shuffles and descending piano keys all leak into the recordings, and become part of the performances. Not in a “I’ll sample a buzzing bee and make a rhythm track” but as a natural part of the recording, and as such, they become an integral part of the songs.
Album opener Wilderness sets the scene – deep piano notes and a mournful trumpet line drop you straight into the mood of the album.
Alligator features Marshall’s powerful, soulful voice over one of the album’s key tracks. It sounds like Mr Lone Wolf is physically thumping the piano at times during the chorus, which builds to a powerful crescendo as cymbal-less drums carry the song to it’s conclusion.
Crimes was the first track that I heard from the album, and I instantly fell in love with the song. It reminded me of late period Talk Talk, in it’s use of restraint and steady pace. Distorted trumpet takes the place of what would have usually been guitar and synth lines, and this gives a real feeling of continuity to the album.
Crimes has a chorus to die for and is already one of my favourite Lone Wolf songs.
“These crimes, these hideous crimes,
oh they make me want to lie my way out of your life”
The lyrics to Give Up seem to refer to finding something akin to a mirage in the isolation of despair.
“Maybe I’ll meet you in the water, maybe the water’s just dry land”
It’s amazing how a song with such simple, stripped back instrumentation can convey the mood of the song so well. The way Give Up shifts up several gears in one of the final choruses, before winding back down to a solo piano outro, is intensely moving.
Give Up contains a great vocal arrangement. It’s clear on this album, more than previous Lone Wolf releases, that the space in the arrangements really gives him the opportunity to soar.
Mistakes really sticks in your brain – I guarantee that this is the song you will find yourself humming long after the song has finished. The lyrics are a tale of the album – how we are hearing every note, including the mistakes. It’s the most uplifting song on Lodge.
Mess has a little of the feel of recent PJ Harvey releases – 2007’s White Chalk in particular, another album that eschew’s the artists usual way of recording.
There is a feel of real sadness throughout the songs and lyrics of Lodge, but as Mr Dwight famously once sang “If someone else is suffering enough to write it down…Sad songs, they say so much.” Lodge is a deeply personal and very honest album, and I think that the songs will resonate with a lot of people.
The tracks towards the end of the album took longer to work their magic, but if you stick with the songs, your patience will be rewarded, as Lodge is an album that bears new fruit after repeated listening.
Taking Steps is a case in point. The track didn’t stand out at first, but three weeks into living with the album, the track is now one of the highlights for me. The almost post-punk drum and bass-line intro section bleeds into a smoky, late-night jazz infused piece that I now never tire of hearing.
It would have been a safe and easy option to dress these songs up in studio effects and slap on layers of synths and strings, but that would have killed the raw emotion that runs through the veins of this album.
Art of Letting Go features a powerful vocal outro as the song finds it’s natural end point. Get Rough is moderately more upbeat than the songs that precede it, and feels more like the Lone Wolf of The Devil & I.
Token Water, the longest track on the album, picks up the night-club jazz feel again, before heading off into an almost Blue Nile like outro, as the song shuts down abruptly with a discordant trumpet blast.
Talking of blasts, that’s how the album closer, Pripyat, announces itself. Deep piano strikes, maybe acting as warning sirens, usher in the tale of the now abandoned Ukrainian city near Chernobyl. Some wonderful trumpet and vocal interplay brings the album to it’s close.
I’m sad that Lodge is apparently the final Lone Wolf release, but hopefully if enough people discover this beautiful album, it won’t be the end of the line completely, and it will be a case of RIP Lone Wolf, long live Paul Marshall!
Buy Lodge on Amazon
Buy the 1st Lone Wolf album The Devil & I on Amazon
Buy the 2nd Lone Wolf album The Lovers on Amazon