I’ve taken a few days away from Sonic Breakfast posts. It’s been a necessary thing to do. The morning routine has been taking longer when I’ve had to do it with a limp. Things that you take for granted like putting your socks on suddenly become an epic battle of mind over matter. I’m feeling better now though with more mobility – ready to fire on all cylinders again.
I needed a banger of a tune to get me through the weekend; that’s what we get in Palo G’s latest, Memorias. Spirited and strident, this mix of Latin rhythm, flamenco guitar and nailed-on message won’t fail to turn your head. In the pre-chorus, Palo recalls the years from eleven to sixteen and first becoming aware of the damaging impact of gender identity problems and sexual assault trauma. “y yo le dije que no, y tu seguistes, y en el infierno my alma pusistes“, is sung as the memories build, a stark line and one that can’t fail to elicit outrage from any right-minded listener.
At its heart though, Memorias is a triumphant battle against adversity. Palo is resurgent and railing against the things that once weighed heavy on the mind. This is an anthem of strength, a courageous note on the power of self-worth that manages to remain playful whilst offering up a serious message. I exchange E-mails with Palo, now living in Berlin after growing up in Marbella, and find her in an optimistic mood.
“I like the opportunities Berlin offers and of course the open mentality.“, she says. “It’s not better than Spain, it’s different… weather definitely is not a pro but summers here are wonderful and full of life. First thing I will do when the restrictions lift up is go for dinner with my girlfriend to this awesome zero waste restaurant called Frea, she gave it to me for my birthday and since then we haven’t been able to use it. Can’t wait to enjoy gastronomy to the fullest again.”
The mail continues. “2021 has been a year of full realisation on how the world works, dismantling capitalism and the patriarch and understanding complex world problems. It has also been a year of self awareness. Memorias was an important step in my life, I am very content with the positive response especially to the message of the song.”
Personal issues with my knee suddenly seem so remarkably insignificant – and rightly so. Have wonderful Sunday’s one and all.
I’m thinking about heading home. It’s not that I particularly want to leave this oasis in the South East of Spain to head back to the South East of England but I know I’ll have to one day soon. When I left from Stansted in July I had no idea that I’d still be here now. I’m stretching my Summer wardrobe out to the extremes pretending it’s still warm enough to wear T-shirts and shorts. And it is, just about, even though the nights are on the turn.
I’ll miss it when I go. I was out here two years ago at exactly this time of year and though I built up a wild bank of memories, I was ready to return to London and a day job when the time came. But now, because of this odd year that we’re all experiencing, London pulls me less – and I can do the day job from here. I like my own company and I’m no longer a novice at dealing with the solitude.
I’m drawn to the new single, California, from Marie Naffah. It’s competent stuff, soulfully delivered. There are happy memories within as Marie recalls a recent road trip and the smiles it still evokes. The song, a gentle jazzy-pop meander, is a vehicle for Marie’s fine voice as we drive along the coast in search of hidden coves and new dreams.
Marie sums it up better than I can when she says that, “Quite simply, ‘California’ is a love letter to a place. It’s meant to capture the infatuation of being somewhere that is not your home. Where the mundane becomes marvellous and every detail is a souvenir.I wrote it after coming back to London – the verses are just lines lifted from my diary pages. It all happened – the smell of the dock, the drives to nowhere, the early sun rises, the coffee from big cups ’.
I have no doubt that I’ll write similar love letters to Alicante when the time comes to leave. But, for now, I’ll try to live in the moment more, to soak up the sun as it touches the terrace and realise just how lucky I am to be living here right now.
“Reflections at sundown can make me so sad, for there’s no way of keeping the day we’ve just had.”
Oh, isn’t that so true? It’s the final fragment of ‘Something Familiar’, a beautiful, hazy folk tune from Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker. Yesterday, I stumbled upon the video to this track from their recently released fifth album and, in truth, haven’t been able to get the touching, evocative images and the crystal clear vocal out of my head since.
In many ways, Sonic Breakfast is as much a blog about memories as it is about music. I often write about new songs that give me glimpses into my past. These are tunes, covering a range of genres and styles, that take me time-travelling to invoke the dim and distant. I’ve got tales to tell, some imagined and some very personal. The music of others is my enabler.
And tonight, as I sit in my comfy armchair and fret about my aching and ageing bones, I hold a mirror up to my face and spy the younger me. I flick through photos in a physical scrapbook that will never be saved to social media. I try to recall the dreams I had back then, the trinkets that I kept by my bed and toys that have long since been tipped.
There’s a freedom in reflecting. You can see the distance travelled and grasp again at the things you’d filed away for another day.
Today has been one of those days. Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker have released a thing of sparse beauty here.