Upon first listen to Sublime, the new album by Charlie Marshall and his latest band The Curious Minds, two things immediately struck me. The first was the sound and sonic landscape of the album – it truly is sublime proving the title to be completely accurate, the second was the fact that this is a concept album. Yes, this is a concept album, complete with a welcoming spoken word intro but don’t be swayed by sense memories of sitting on a beanbag in 1975 with incense wafting around your face. There’s none of that imagery here – this is a thinking person’s concept album.
The songs follow a progression through our existence in the universe from a scientific point of view but are elegantly conveyed by Marshall’s emotive and wondrous vocals marvellously bridging the gap between music and physics. Produced by Marshall, the album is broken into 2 parts – side A “Physics” and side B “Ecology“. The metaphors are strong and the way Marshall is able to stir up emotion through facts is something he has effortlessly offered the listener in a contemplative and reflective way that is never preachy.
Listening to the tracks here it feels like a self evaluation of Marshall’s relationship with the earth – how did it get here? How did I come to be in it? and how can I best look after it? Standout songs for me are the rocking “Not a Cruel Machine” from the Physics side and “So Many Ways” from the “Ecology” side with its haunting slide and hope for the future. Also included is a cover of the Waterboys’ classic “The Whole of the Moon“, that Marshall totally makes his own, to close out the album.