Still Corners: The Last Exit

Still Corners are a British-American pop duo made up of songwriter/producer Greg Hughes and vocalist Tessa Murray; Hughes grew up in the US and Murray is originally from England. Their music has a distinct American twang; with Hughes’ background, they are not putting it on, despite their strong connection to Blighty.

American label Sub Pop signed the band after their first few singles and released their debut album Creatures of an Hour (2011), then Strange Pleasures (2013).The band went on to release Dead Blue (2016) and Slow Air (2018) under their own record label, Wrecking Light Records. Their music has been described as “desert noir”; fifth album, The Last Exit, concerns itself with “the myth and folklore of the open road” –  in “a world where everyone thinks all the corners of the map are filled in, Still Corners believe there’s something beyond what we see and feel, something eternal in the landscape of those never-ending drives”.

The title track (also the first single and first song on the album) is billed as “the final chapter of the Still Corners’ Road Trilogy” following “The Trip” (from Strange Pleasures) and “The Message” (from Slow Air). It features a beautifully gentle and sensual vocal from Murray. Atmospheric, soporific, mysterious, this track is likely to please fans of “The Trip”, which has been streamed over fifty-seven million streams on YouTube.

There is much more to like on The Last Exit: the sultry vocal and deep guitar of “A Kiss Before Dying”; the dramatic, cinematographic “Bad Town” and “Mystery Road”, the rhythmic and harmonic charm of “It’s Voodoo”. In terms of reference points for the uninitiated, Calexico would be a close cousin; “Old Arcade” sounds at times like a trippy nod to Dylan’s “Lay, Lady, Lay”, and with its’ shimmering clean-tone guitar, third single “White Sands” could make a listener think of Chris Rea’s “On The Beach”, or, at the very least, being on the beach.

The album was apparently complete before the 2020 global pandemic began, but when Covid-19 struck the duo started writing again, reflecting on the impact of isolation, and the need for social contact and intimacy. It was in this context that “Till We Meet Again”, “Static”, and “Crying” were written. “Till We Meet Again” is a spacey interlude, which along with fellow instrumental “Shifting Dunes”, provide melodic landscapes for the listener’s brain to wander. “Static” features a whispered vocal about a crazy world, and the lonesome whistle and wonky tuning of second single “Crying” emphasise the difficulties of dealing with a breakup and how to face uncertainty.

Soothing, at times hypnotic, The Last Exit is available on prescription or at the links below.

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Label: Wrecking Light Records
Release Date: 22 JAN 2021