For a band approaching 39 years, New Model Army continue to be prolific, not only live but by their studio output. From Here is their latest studio album, and it has all the hallmarks of what we’ve come to expect and love, gentle acoustics, pounding tribal drums and thought-provoking lyrics offering a commentary of the world as seen through Justin Sullivan’s eyes. Yes you could argue some of the lyrics are bleak, and this could in part be due to the landscape of Norway where the album was recorded, or it could be the bleak times we find ourselves in currently in a country which seems to have lost all direction and politicians have lost all credibility.
Opening with ‘Passing Through’, it’s a slow build up, with a vocal delivered over guitar feedback and tambourine, hitting a crescendo at four minutes when the drums kick in “winds will change direction, grace and light will once again fall on you, it will be over soon”. There are of course what you could call classic NMA songs, ‘The Weather’ and ‘Watch and Learn’, but the real jewel amongst these songs is the album closer, of which the album is named, ‘From Here’. At just over 8 minutes, it is possibly the best work Sullivan has written. He recently admitted to Steve Lamacq on 6music that the album was written and recorded in a matter of weeks, however in typical style tried to hide away from any promotion of the album, tour or band in general.
‘From Here’ opens with a simple piano, with the waves on the shore in the background, before tribal drumming, then the bass kicks in “from the concrete cities, to the wide open spaces, everything is in tension, and waiting, and a little gust of wind, and stillness, a little creak of the timbers, and then silence”. It is stunning, and I can’t wait to hear it live, hearing those drums pound your heart.
“I am the master of nothing, repeat after me”. Well Mr Sullivan and co you are the master of a fine album, one which sits with ease amongst the huge back catalogue, and which dare I say, already sounds like a classic NMA piece of work.
The pre-order of coloured vinyl and signed sleeves is close to selling out just to give some indication of the demand for the band. After all these years they have never been in a better place.
From Here is out on earMusic on the 23rd August 2019, with an extensive UK tour later this year.
Reviewer: Glenn Raybone