REVIEW album Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

Martin Callingham's ‘Tonight, We All Swim Free’ Poised To Poetically Inspire

Old Subbacultcha

Old Subbacultcha



A multi-talented individual who not only wrote his forthcoming collection as well as singing, playing guitar, organ and the bass guitar on a number of tracks, but was also responsible for the photography-based album artwork. Martin Callingham has a knack for proving himself in a number of art-based fields. Front man of the Bristol-based band ‘Joyce the Librarian’, he releases his solo album ‘Tonight, we all swim free’ for all to enjoy.



When first listening, there is a noticeable unbalance throughout between instrument and the angelic whisper of Mr Callingham, to which the instrumental accompaniment requires no written word involvement at times, but simply the undisrupted attention of its audience. Tracks such as the opening ‘Rhosgoch’ and the beautiful, stripped-to-the-bone ‘Ken’ for example, hold a glow of deep tranquillity which is best uninterrupted, much like the fall of a setting sun.


However, that is only one story to tell of this autumn-touched anthology. Martin clutches melancholy as they metaphorically push-bike their way through a path of withered leaves. But through the melodies and the minor-note message of death waiting to claim the world, it still holds something that is relatable to a concealed flower amongst a sea of endless oaks, a hidden beauty.


A pure opening of soft acoustic notes escorted by a ringing violin string, flows swiftly into the track ‘Knots’, embellishing the listener with notions of deep self reflection. The delicate harmonies feed an understanding of the raw emotion to come, bringing a soft but undeniable lump to your throat. The lump begins to grow as ‘Hare on the Hil’s instrumental intro of slow cello movements soon gather resonance with high violin notes before entering an image of a snow covered ‘Portland Square’. Silently crunching through the white gold of plucked cello and dark brooding guitar, a lightless sensation of ‘Gliding’ through winter winds transpires, the soft voice of Martin echoes through the cold until the dawn breaks and the world awakens.



‘Ken’ depicts a downhearted artist plucking amongst an unnoticed crowd of empty faces, but all is not lost in the realm of poignant beauty. ‘Build us a path’ and ‘folding’ add an uplifting John Keats note to this story as it reaches its poetic close. As the ‘Tides Return’ to swallow the footprints and swell of past heartache, a fresh breath fills the lungs leaving the listener content, if not with that same lump in your throat.


Roughly twenty six minutes long, (nearly half the recommendation for the length of a ten track album) ‘Tonight, we all swim free’ needs no permission for short-lived songs anymore than a poem needs the requirement to fill a page. A calming tide and unmarked example of beautiful song writing.


To find out more about Martin Callingham click here.


To visit Martin Callingham's Facebook page click here.


Words by Nathan Roach


Photo by Dylan Kissell


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