published: 6 /
Excellent first single in over five years from harmonic Scottish duo the Fabulous Artisans
Edinburgh’s Stereogram Recordings have been in hiatus for much of the year and there have been no new releases until now because of the pandemic. Behind the scenes, however, there has been a lot going on. Most of its acts – The Cathode Ray, Stoor, St Christopher Medal, the Vintage Calvinos and James King & The Lonewolves – have been working on new material, while the Eastern Swell’s main songwriter and guitarist Chris Reeve has been concentrating on a solo album.
Cathode Ray frontman and label boss Jeremy Thoms has also been looking deep into his own archives, and will be re-releasing digitally in November for their 40th anniversary ‘Out in the Open’ and ‘Reasons for Leaving’, the two singles by his first band the Presidents Men, as well as a 25th anniversary remaster of his 90’s group New Leaf’s debut album, ‘On Safari’.
In the meantime there comes ‘Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained’, a new single by his another of the prolific Thoms’ acts, the Fabulous Artisans. First formed in 2007 by Thoms with Glasgow-based actor and stand-up comic Neil Crossan in 2007, the Fabulous Artisans released a well-received album of Jacques Brel/Scott Walker-influenced cabaret pop, ‘…From Red to Blue’, a year later. Musical output has, however, been sporadic since then, and ‘Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained’ is just their fourth song since that album and first release in over five years.
Thoms’ and Crossan breezily harmonise around each other against a backdrop of soaring guitars and echoing drumbeats. The tone of 'Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained' is on the surface gloriously optimistic, a call to arms to seize life by both hands (“Nothing ventured, nothing gained/So peek behind that door/There’s so much more/Nothing ventured nothing gained/So look, there's a great big world out there”), but, as with a lot of Thoms’ songwriting, there is an underscoring sense of melancholy (“So why not try something new?/Get it while it's hot/ Because you never know just how long you've got”). Its overall message is life is short and frail, and we have to make the most of things while we can. A fine and perfect record for these unsettling times.
Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained