⌽ Avignon ⌽

 

Toby Driver aimed to make a sparse album of “traditional songwriting” and lead single “Avignon” achieves that goal. A quiet, haunting song, coupled with little more than Toby’s voice and electric guitar (and a nice amount of reverb).

Sparse and simple melody strummed on a crystal-clear tone of an electric guitar. Haunting vocals float on a background of barely but ever-changing keyboard chords, restrained bass work and discrete synths; immersing us in this dreamy, almost, tranquil state.

A subtle pulsebeat pushes Avignon along with an undercurrent of urgency, as Toby shines a black light on the weight of history bearing down on love:

“My love is a sigh laughing
As we stroll through holy Avignon.”
Fortunately, “Avignon” adds another layer of vocals that presents a unique melody. As the track slowly crescendos, this second part raised in the mix, provides a compelling vocal line for which ears had long been pining.

All of these elements, correspondingly, resound through the track itself; as the guitars first announce the bone-chilling adage which makes up the backbone of the track.

Driver’s deep vocals, which sing the main line of the track, complete this theme perfectly. He conveys the rich night, the heady romance of the conjured city, together with the rest of the elusive images the ballad hints at.

Meanwhile, Driver’s lyrics are impressively arcane and abstract. They speak of an affair, intermixed with an urban landscape, evoking the effervescent, historical quality of Avignon:

We set across the flagstones,
across the fragments..
We wandered through the kingdoms,
achieving balance.”
…which echoes near the middle of the track and on to its end.

This mix between a personal affair, atmosphere, romance, and physical surroundings reverberates throughout the album. The lyrics, as well as, ideas (like at the end of the opening track), create a unique and intriguing perspective on personal experience.

“She drew herself up like cigarette smoke”, such a brilliant line.

 

RIYL: Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass