Stornoway’s “Beachcomber’s Windowsill”

“The Oxford, England band has composed a meandering, lovely and infectious debut. . .” -MH

Michael Hall
stornaway beachcomber's windowsill

out of 10

Beachcomber’s Windowsill
July 13, 2010

Listen to Stornoway’s album Beachcomber’s Windowsill on a sunny day while driving through the Northeast Georgia countryside and let its simple, honest beauty take you on a journey of young love and maturation.

The Oxford, England band has composed a meandering, lovely and infectious debut, ripe with folk character and pop sensibilities that possess a passion for life and love from the first note. While they will benefit from bands like Fleet Foxes and Mumford and Sons paving the way for the new folk sound before them, Stornoway has managed to forge a sound all their own.

The first song on Beachcomber’s Windowsill, “Zorbing,” (the practice of rolling around in one of those big inflatable clear balls, it looks incredibly fun. look it up) opens the album with a story of a freefall into love. By the closing track, though, we find lead singer Brian Briggs singing of drunk dials to what sounds like an ex. In between we follow the band as they attempt to properly enjoy their time on earth.

The track “Fuel Up” suggests that time is short and that in life, we must drive on because if we “break down, it’s a cold, hard shoulder.” It continues, “When your days are darker, put your foot down harder/ Drive on…There’s no rewind so you might as well play while your time is rolling away.” You can’t say it much better than that.

In the frenetically paced single “Watching Birds,” Stornoway seems to explore the frustrations of the dreaded friend-zone. “Well I’ve been looking since that day/ Since the day we parted/ But you don’t find happiness/ When you’re searching for it,” sings Briggs. Search for happiness and you will think you see it where it doesn’t exist.

Throughout the journey of young life on Beachcomber’s Windowsill, there is a call to remember the natural order of things. It seems to be asking us not to fight our instincts, but to follow them instead. In the rootsy tune “We Are The Battery Human,” Stornoway makes the plea:

“We need to fix our loose connections/ Out in the natural world wide web/ Where humans evolved in three dimensions/ We were tuned in by natural selection/ And we need to go online each day/ But inside we don’t get no reception/ So join the new revolution/ To free the battery human.”

Make no mistake; Beachcomber’s Windowsill is a phenomenal album. Sit on a front porch with a beer (a British pint, just to keep things all on the same level) and the setting sun and you will surely understand. The clarity of the often harmonized vocals, the strength of 11 superbly written songs and the album’s undeniably optimistic tone keeps the listener glued to its natural, organic beauty. It reminds us that the ups and downs are all part of the big picture and that life itself is wonderful. Stornoway has a bright future ahead of them.

–Michael Hall, August 13, 2010