Alexander Shields has talked before about how his music reflects his insular nature, it’s part of the reason that A Grave With No Name live performances are rare. Instead, the haunting apparitions and lingering beauty of his work is captured in all its hibernal starkness on his lo-fi, art-rock recordings.
Almost everything is pared down in his songs. His guitar is minimalist and sparse, his voice mixed low and understated; the drumming of Daniel Paton brushes across the cymbals or thoughtfully pushes the beat in angular syncopation.
Whether you know it or not, Alexander Shields has always been here. At least, that's how it might feel to him, recording as A Grave with No Name for nearly a decade, he's always seemed just at the periphery of 'what's going on' in his indie lane. To date, some of his projects have garnered looks, perhaps Whirpool most so, with its ghostly stories, but all seem to slip back into the nether of under-heard, underappreciated.
It’s a depressing subject, death. Especially that of a loved one, someone held close to your heart. People can pass in the blink of an eye, the sudden shock a challenge to deal with in itself; alternatively, long term illness can render a person immobile for years and theoretically it should give that person’s relatives plenty of times to come to terms with the inevitable.
Written during a stay at his family home following the death of his grandmother, ‘Passover’ is the sixth album from songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Alexander Shields, otherwise known as A Grave With No Name. Like much of his previous output, it's equally as arresting and intriguing as it is sombre and sincere.
Given the circumstances surrounding its creation, this should come as little surprise. Unlike the albums which came before it, however, ‘Passover’ avoids a large ensemble of musicians, and opts instead for just two; drummer and childhood friend Daniel Paton and bassist Ben Reed.