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Neil Cousin Neil Cousin
Album: The Dreams Of Animals
Label: Oilbug
Tracks: 11

Ghosts of past loves haunt Neil Cousin who, like Miss Haversham, still clings desperately and irrationally to hope.

Gothic horror and ghostly imagery pervade the 11 tracks on The Dream of Animals. Like an out-of-focus, black and white film, characters and feelings emerge from the gloom to briefly flicker and disappear again. While the lyrics are often oblique and mysterious, Neil tries to negotiate a lonely world where plans are doomed to failure. He paints pictures of relationships, regrets and longing with finely crafted melodies and ethereal, shifting atmospherics.

Leg Bone Flute is carefully, sonically crafted with a slow, almost funereal beat and ghostly backing vocals. It’s about finding hope amid despair. ‘You are a ghost and I carry your secret; For reasons lost I carry you inside.’

It’s not all bleak in Neil’s world though. Happy Ending Vampire Story, while still macabre, has a jauntily strummed tune with beautiful accompanying strings and some good jokes.

There is more supernatural story-telling in Lock Keeper’s Daughter, full of eerie gulfs and murky depths, it appears to be related from beyond a (watery) grave.

Neil’s voice nearly cracks under emotional weight in Black Dog, a song about how judgement is clouded by depression.

‘There’s things I never did that haunt me’ Neil sings intimately on 4:38am Stand-off. ‘A man’s as strong as his bones and his bones made of dust; The work he does in his life is just smoke in the gusts.’

In St Cecila’s Day, Neil carries on clinging to the memory of a lost love. ‘Oh well she sits next to me though I travel alone just me; I will wait for her shadow to appear I will wait for her year after year’.

Clever lyrics and subtle and inspired music make this album one to admire.

Andy Nelmes