The album begins with what sounds like a hunter’s horn; this musical image indicative of the journey that is to come. Acoustic guitars are blended with subtle atmospherics and dark haunting lyrics. The first line is delivered with a gentle resignation: "I lost my head in a landslide.”
‘There Are No Goodbyes’ is about many types of loss; loss of self, loss of location, loss of happiness and loss of life. It is a piece of work that struggles with the enduring desire to find the eternal friend. That life will always fail in this respect gives this collection of songs their edge.
In the song ‘Dreaming,’ dreams are entwined with reality, “You held me close and said you could sense the torment inside me. You even touched my cheek to see if I was still breathing. But I was only dreaming.”
The conflict between the pursuit of friendship and the many ways in which friends are lost, is the source of the pain expressed. Nevertheless, the conclusion is never reached that one should give up the pursuit. On the contrary, the song ‘Something’ expresses self-doubt, the imperfections of the individual but holds onto the idea of love as the source of meaning.
‘Signs’ tangles up such meaning. People are forever being misunderstood and misinterpreted. The loss of friendship is explored here as the failure to properly connect. The hunter has failed to capture his beloved; the romantic pursuit frustrated by the failure to read signs. The ideal of the beloved is thus contrasted with the more messy and untidy aspect of the everyday relationship.
‘Heartbreak’ is rendered with strings and a gentle acoustic guitar. It is sparse, open and vulnerable. It is a song about the unexplained absence of a loved one: “I’m like a child waiting for the postman at the front door.” There is also a level of emotional maturity when Robin Proper-Sheppard sings, “I guess I should know by now that nothing ever lasts.”
Still, there is a sense of progress with the album. The songs here are not a sadcore musical confession of a singer-songwriter stuck in an emotional rut. The last song ‘Portugal’ contrasts well with the opening lyric: “I took my head and turned my face to the sun.” The existential delight at being alive, being able to breathe and take stock is a resolution of sorts.
‘There Are No Goodbyes’ should be enjoyed in an intimate setting. Draw the curtains, dim down the lights and relax with a glass of Shiraz.