So Sad – Johnny McCore (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

I know that it might seem like a lazy reference point, but there is something Beatle-esque about So Sad. With only a few changes, mainly to reflect the production capabilities and tone of the times, you might even think that this is a lost track from the recording sessions which resulted in Revolver or Rubber Soul. It has the same blend of pop and inventiveness, accessibility yet qualities that stand the test of time, mainstream appeal and more discerning qualities.

It is a song that allows itself a lot of space to work in, rather than filling up the sonic backdrop with slabs of music designed for maximum impact, which is often what makes rock music slightly underwhelming, ironically, So Sad weaves together deft and delicate sonic strands.

Smart and understated guitar lines blend with more robust six-string attacks, bass lines and backbeats do only what is required, elegantly restrained and acting mainly as sonic punctuation and the vocals follow similar wandering dynamics to create interest and intrigue.

And it is through these woven strands that the song is balanced. If weight is needed it is through layering and the application of additional textures, if soothing lulls are called for then the song is reduced to more gossamer threads and space and silence between is wielded like and instrument in its own right. In fact, it is in this “negative space” that the true beauty of the song comes to fruition. Anticipation and atmospherics are found in the spaces as one note fades and another is born, between one fading lyric and the intake of breath before the next is delivered. It is behind, between and beyond such musical conventions that true alchemy takes place.

So Sad is a cleverer song than it might appear on first hearing and Johnny McCore is a smarter composer than he might first appear. But you will only find that out if you listen properly to what he does. Some songs are there to be simply enjoyed, a beautiful moment in time, others are to be appreciated, to be marvelled at for the deftness of their creation. So Sad, I feel, sits with one foot in both camps.

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