For the better part of a decade, self-taught multi-instrumentalist & producer Anthony Baden Saggers has been releasing music as Stray Ghost both independently and on such respected boutique labels as Hidden Shoal, Time Released Sound, and 1631 Recordings. In a couple of weeks, he will be able to add Phases Records to that list as the London-based imprint is shortly to release his latest opus entitled A Shade Under Thirty. The title is an overt nod to the kind of milestone the album represents for the artist as he surveys his own past, present, and future while reaching out to forge a meaningful connection to his audience.
“The maturity he has recently talked of reaching at the age of thirty, leaving behind the young man he once was, is mirrored in A Shade Under Thirty by his vision of the world at a pivotal moment, his piano picking a path forwards through European disintegration, climate change and life in the digital age. As he says himself, ‘I don’t just want people to listen… I want them to feel.'”
Predominantly beautiful, but haunted by contemporary forebodings, A Shade Under Thirty comprises a baker’s dozen of both new compositions and variations of earlier work that finds Saggers as proficient with the most tender and intimate of piano ballads as he is with opulent fusions of the analog and electronic. The tender pieces are especially affecting, particularly the lovely eight minute “Two Steps (A Life Lived Together)”, “Sonder”, and his touching tributes to Nick Cave as well as early career supporter Nennad Novakovic who took his life last year. There is also the somber and stately beauty of “Eliza (Variation 5)” which can be heard here in an exclusive premiere.
The album’s more expansive moments come in the way of cinematic vignettes (“Brightelmstone”, “Jauräs”, “Midnight Over Vernon Terrance”), majestic and somewhat ominous musings (“Life in the Flickering On and Off”, “Fear of a Silent Spring”, “Fear of the Capital Collapse”), or the string-laden melodrama of “Sonata for the Hope Deprived”. It is a rich and immersive collection indeed and one that succeeds in elevating the personal reflections of the artist into a moving shared experience.
A Shade Over Thirty will be available to the public on November 23. Be sure to check the Phases Records web site or check back here after that date for release details.