reviewed by Ben Hogwood
What’s the story?
The press release for The Last Exit is particularly promising if you long to escape from the confines of isolation. Described as ‘a sweeping album about the open road’, and a record that ‘evokes the vast space of the desert and rolling unconcerned skies’, it is the fifth long player from Still Corners, the London-based project of Tessa Murray and Greg Hughes.
What’s the music like?
Still Corners have always painted vivid pictures with their music, and The Last Exit is no different – though regular listeners will note the appearance of more dust on the road this time round. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly how that happens, but the instrumentation is definitely a factor, as are the husky tones of Murray.
Her voice immediately inhabits the story, taking the listener to those distant plans in the ghost stories White Sands and It’s Voodoo, where spirits roam the dunes and highways. This has a strong evocative of the dry heat underfoot and shimmering shapes on the horizon, with extra description and shade provided by Hughes’s guitar and the woolly atmospherics. The same combination provides equally powerful images on Static and Till We Meet Again, which – like Crying – enhances its Wild West themes with distant whistling.
These three songs were written as a direct response to the Coronavirus pandemic, and they act as a manifestation of the great outdoors in whatever confined space you are listening in. Indeed, the band could almost be performing in a Nevada ghost town.
Does it all work?
Mostly. On occasion The Last Exit could do with some more directly melodic material, but it makes up for this through powerful evocations of time and place.
Is it recommended?
Yes. Devotees who have tracked the band for four albums will recognise their calling cards but also their progression to a deeper, more expansive sound, in spite of their numbers remaining at two.