Thomas George is the misty voiced curator of The Lion and The Wolf and his second album The Cardiac Hotel is quite something. A whole lotta heartbreak has been poured into this record, yet its atmospheric mix of indie folk rock boasts an enviable maturity and poise that give it a warm intimacy. Although he may be dealing with difficult subjects like his father’s illness, grief and lost love, it is very accessible and something we can all relate to, as the intimate nature of the songs wrap the listener in comfort and understanding.
‘Don’t Fail Me Now’ sets the tone with an aching yet uplifting ode to love, the melancholy horns almost half heartedly tickle a wry smile onto the lips of those who’ve loved and lost. This is immediately followed by what, for me at least, is one of the album’s finest moments on ‘Heaven Forbid’. This is a darkly sublime beauty of an open wound, its layered textures of ponderous percussion and spacious guitar lines make room for an emotional vocal.
There’s plenty more feelings on display as the record progresses through the soothingly reflective ‘My Father’s Eyes’ and the melancholy ‘The Hospital Floor’, with its subtle touches of horns that punctuate the lilting piano melody. Things take a folky turn on ‘The Pinching Point’, which features a heartbreaking violin in the mid section, while ‘Walk on The Moon’ is more upbeat and offers comfortable melody.
To be honest, there’s not one song on here that doesn’t work; every single track has something to offer, whether it’s the late night sorrowful lament of ‘Barstools’, with its air of bitterness and defeat or the coolly delivered ‘Past The Point of Fair’. Then there’s the more powerful ‘December’, which sounds like something Ben Watt might do, with lyrics like “The body I have is a ghost town” and the slight drama to the percussion that builds as the song gathers an emotional urgency and Thomas delivers his most complete vocal performance; great stuff.
The bittersweet reflection of the smooth ‘Witness’, with its tumble down piano, precedes the subtle beauty of ‘Find the Time’ which eventually gathers into a rousing barrage of horns to round this fine record off in style. It is a fitting finale to an album that will endure; one that is peppered with many a moment of sublime beauty and that possesses a wonderfully human quality that speaks to us all. Sublime, beautiful, heartbreaking and hopeful – like a warm hug from a good friend – immerse yourself.
‘Cardiac Hotel’ is out now on Xtra Mile Recordings.