Not often is a curious curated so eloquently, yet ‘The Last Astronaut’ the debut album from Woodheart delivers a zany montage of the cosmic with its roots firmly on the ground.
Ben Shorten is the performer behind Woodheart, who describes the album as “A collection of 10 tracks, each a standalone short story. Sometimes dark, sometimes sad, sometimes funny, interwoven to create a kind of overarching narrative.”
The opening track Radar explores modern day burnout and the uncertainty the comes with absconding the rat race in favour of creative pursuits. “Don’t want to leave a but I need a break from the lies the smiles the haircuts and the limp handshakes”.
Shorten’s vocals are accompanied by an electronic echo that is spoken and bound by keyboard. The half-rhyme lyrical structure of the verses are well crafted and filled with sincere uneasy reflection. ‘’I wonder will those blunders be defining will they creep up from behind me and pull the rug from under or even crouch beside me so when I inevitably stumble they cause me to fall to the floor’’. The chorus takes a decidedly different melodic turn akin to the opening of Bowie’s Space Oddity, yet this fits in nicely and sets a precedent for the rest of the album.
The album’s title track shifts Woodheart in a vaudevillian direction. The Last Astronaut opens with a pirouette of piano that leads into a carnival-esque acoustic waltz that tells a tale of a lonely soul at dismay at the world he finds himself in. Each verse rolls around like a carousel of woe on an (un)merry go round “He spends his time wandering the earth, a man stole his wallet the land of his birth. No longer acknowledges all that he is done, how quickly those people forgot”.
Penned in our native tongue is the uplifting electro rock-infused G.M.T, a refreshing interruption that brings the listener firmly back down to earth. The tile is an acronym for the Irish expression Go maire tú. Shorten describes the track and its title: “Go maire tú. It’s used as a casual term of encouragement. The song in general is kind of a list of terrible things a particular person does but despite it all, the singer can’t help but side with them and wish them well“.
The Ballad Of How I Die closes out the album. If Simon & Garfunkel’s Hazy Shade of Winter was not about a reflection on life’s journey but about an unfortunate affray in a Dublin pub, this song would be it.
‘The Last Astronaut’ is a medley of a session in a shebeen and a roving carnival that lands somewhere between mother earth and the galaxy. One small step for man one giant leap for Woodheart.