J. Cowhie’s ‘Veil’ is an album about change. The responsibilities that come to us all in our lives whether we are ready for them or not. Having to embrace these changes and moving on with them. The struggles of dealing with loss, love and regret in these different stages we find ourselves. The veil can be seen as a wall between the mind and reality when certain situations get too much to handle. ‘Veil’ in his own words is ‘a very personal record’.
After the release of his critically lauded (as GOODTIME) album ‘The Colours of Darkness’ Cowhie began a new life in a new country, got married, had a child. The emotional response to all that comes with that is evident in the overall feel of ‘Veil’. ‘Everything changed for me’ says Cowhie. But don’t be fooled it isn’t all autobiographical. ‘I guess the older you get the more things change in both yourself and the people around you. Certain people’s lives take a turn for better or for worse. And as a friend you are with them through those times. Finding myself lost in a new landscape, I was drawn to what we do as humans to survive’.
Lyrically in tracks like the centerpiece ‘Deliverance’ and ‘Laid to Waste’ show Cowhie’s knack for singing from the soul projected right upfront. ‘I just tried to write as simple and straightforward as possible.’
Were as TCOD saw Cowhie embrace the idea of writing for a band. During the making of ‘Veil’ he found himself without one. Writing and recording in the early hours while his newborn son slept (that’s his son’s heartbeat sampled in the album’s intro) he found himself referring back to old folk and soul favourites along with delving into electronic and ambient music. ‘I wanted to combine the idea of using some electronic production with traditional instrumentation without losing the soul of the songs. I was conscious of certain 70s records which have featured primitive electronic instruments like drum machines and synthesizers but kept a great vibe going, like Shuggie Otis, McCartney II, Bill Fay’s Still Some Light. I really wanted to get that for these songs.’ This technique is superbly executed in stand out tracks like ‘Did You Even Notice?’, ‘Holding’ and ‘Long Way Home’.
‘Veil’ also sees Cowhie stepping into the role of producer for the first time without taking any focus off the songs. ‘It’s all about the songs, the production is secondary. But the goal is to find a balance that compliment each other. I like to keep things loose and not too glossy, keeping the magic of first takes where possible etc.’ Full effect can be heard in the album’s closing and penultimate track ‘In Reverse’. You can also hear experimental elements like field recordings, 4 track tape manipulations bubbling underneath the 8 tracks that make up the album.
The album was recorded over the last year and a half mainly at home. Additional recording on two songs was done in Dublin, Ireland with longtime (GOODTIME) band members Ross Turner, Cian Murphy and Glenn Keating. Cowhie then took the songs to Emil Isaksson’s Studio Möllan in Malmö, Sweden and mixed the album.
The album is made for repeated listens to unveil the layers and textures beneath the songs. We recommend putting on the headphones and taking ‘Veil’ for a walk this winter. You might find it will warm your soul as it did ours