Recently, I have heard some amazing songs come from the UK Country scene and the genre is certainly giving its American counterpart a run for its money. Now, Stuart Landon is definitely part of this wonderful culture here.
Before I go into detail in my thoughts about the track and its deep lyricism, the first thing we do as consumers is look at the album artwork and I feel that Stuarts artwork for Lonely is just that. Its art. I’ve mentioned this on my social media pages and it definitely needs praising in this review too. A lot of artists go for the standard portrait picture of themselves, which I am not saying is a bad thing by any means (even the greats of Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash and Carrie Underwood do this). Stuarts artwork really takes you deep into the meaning behind the song. As you can imagine the song is about loneliness and this is shown truly in the image of a single eye with the reflection of a silhouette of an individual who looks like is turned away from the viewer. In addition to this, you can see an expanse with nothing but a hilly range and birds flying away from the eye. There is also a single teardrop on the cusp of falling which portrays the hurt and heartache this person is feeling. Another ‘great’ (not really great, rather painful) take on this image, is the idea that the eye is the window to one’s soul, and this image could be portrayed as the loneliness the person feels not only externally but internally. Along with the striking contrasts of the blue and greyscale colouring, this image is just so breath-taking, and I can only say bravo to the designer of such masterpiece!
Now let’s look at the music.
A haunting piano introduction take us into the emotional depths of this song. Shortly followed is a spinetingling steel guitar that gives ‘Lonely’ a certain depth that it really needs to explain the feelings surrounding the inspirations of this song, which I will discuss later. Through the first half of this song, the drums are kept to a minimum, which only come in to play after 1:42 (just shy of halfway through the whole song) and even then, it’s only the rhythmic timing of a cymbal. They truly come crashing in at 2:57 which gives the song its crescendo and elevation all great songs have. Throughout the majority of the song, accompanying the piano and steel is a wonderful orchestral arrangement that fits so wonderfully.
Looking at Stuarts vocals. Now I say all the time, I don’t know what key people sing in. I don’t have the ‘ear’ that can run through the scales. But what I can tell you, is Stuarts portrayal of pain and his storytelling abilities are second to none. Absolutely sublime! His tone and pitch remain soft and delicate throughout the song aiding in the imagery painted by the brilliant musicianship.
I feel right now is where I should explain the inspirations for this song came from. Stuart was inspired to write this song after his manager spoke with him about her private battle with Cancer and life threatening illness. He says "I was really blown away by the song Elephant by Jason Isbell and I'm in no way comparing this song or myself as a writer to Jason or Elephant, but it shed a perspective on cancer to me which was an inspiration in parts of Lonely. Unfortunately, my manager found out that she had the disease and she had to bravely fight it. I watched first-hand how someone who was facing this horrible journey could be, in public, so brave, and adopt a what will be will be attitude. The thing with this disease is you can’t do anything to help, you have to stand by and watch it happen, so I started thinking about what it must be like knowing it could send you to an early grave and how lonely it must be to have to live with that thought every day, and how strong and brave you must have to be. It really must be the loneliest place in the world"
Although I know he is being humble and modest by saying he is not comparing himself to Jason Isbell but in terms of his story telling and emotions depicted, Stuart has done an amazing job.
The majority of us will know somebody who has been affected or has been affected themselves by cancer, and we know how lonely and painstakingly difficult it can be.
At the start of the song, he sings ‘Tell them when I leave, This was the hardest place to be.’ This is such a powerful line which really struck me emotionally as it confirms everything Stuart explained previously. It shows that sense of hopelessness and almost at the point where a person decides to give up fighting a long and difficult battle. I won’t break down the lyrics any further because you really, really, need to buy this song, close your eyes, and take in the emotions of pain, hurt, despair and being truly Lonely.
In short, Stuart has managed to take a page in a (hypothetical) diary and turn it into something so meaningful, pure and emotional that will get the hardest of hearts to feel something!
Lonely is released worldwide on Monday 29th June 2020 with pre-order available now on iTunes.
You can also find Stuart on his socials: