You’ll be hard pushed to find a more elegant album this year than Robert John Ardiff’s second solo album ‘The Corridors of Love’. It’s a masterful affair that examines and lays bare the human condition, with a musical palette that touches all the emotional bases in the most beguiling, uplifting and thought-provoking ways.
The album was recorded sporadically in Dublin, New York and Copenhagen over the past couple of years, this guerrilla approach to capturing the music lends itself to a record that provides a soundtrack of varied and unique textures. The album was in part inspired by Deborah Levy’s book ‘The Cost of Living’ (which also provides the albums title)
Those stories combine with Ardiff’s own experiences to produce the moving thematic investigation, as he says on Tightrope Walker “I’ve never been too good talking about my feelings or saying what I’m thinking. I’ve never been in love with anybody but myself and I don’t know who’s me.”
It’s clear that Ardiff isn’t holding back either lyrically or vocally as feelings of desperation, frustration and anxiety are all touched on from the off, as the opening lines of Black Dog allude to “Clocks in the morning, and the feeling there’s another day to come, when the sun’s never dawning,” but even here you can sense the singer’s determination to break out of the despair.
A rich tapestry of sound unfurls throughout ‘The Corridors of Love’, provided by Ardiff’s supporting cast and collaborators including Neil Murray, Robert McComish, Stu McMahon and David Crean amongst others. There are wonderful piano lines, fulsome layers of guitar and aching brass, that along with Ardiff’s superb vocal range make for a breathtaking combination.
The complex musical foundations also feature some sublime string arrangements from Gareth Quinn Redmond which hook you into this intimate exploration of what it means to live life, fantastically illustrated on the back-to-back punch of Miles Away and The Lion’s Share.
Despite the heavy themes, ‘The Corridors of Love’ has more than the odd glimmer of positivity, with Ardiff reflecting that there is hopefulness and love even in the most desperate of situations, Perfect Day sees a young romantic yearning to break out of “the trenches with the boys” and find something more significant than camaraderie.
Whilst Checkout is a delicate treatise on the fact that we all have our challenges to deal with, but there are people there for us if we need their support & love “Somebody’s is humming your favourite tune to get you back towards the light”.
With ‘The Corridors of Love’ Robert John Ardiff has produced a deeply emotive, painfully honest and beautifully wrought record.