If some music is created with the intention of being right in the listeners face and some designed to be purely background music, then Paul Littlewood’s latest release is a whole new concept, a song which somehow does both. Today is a bit like a mesmerising landscape, something which is far away yet so beguiling that it fills your consciousness, untouchable but impossible to ignore. It’s a clever balance of bucolic pop, all hazy musical swirls and blurred sonic edges, yet hangs in the air cocooning the listener, unobtrusive and yet ubiquitous.
The back story is as wonderful as that of any modern song, inspired by some found cassette tapes which turned out to be long forgotten audio letters between a New York based couple and their UK parents. It was the honesty of the idea of music as intimate conversation, of open communication between loved ones that changed the way Paul Littlewood approached song writing and explains the raw emotion and heart on sleeve approach to the song.
Musically Today is built on hazy indie-folk which toys with words like fey and twee but deftly avoids such undermining connotations by virtue of being anchored to more robust pop structures, and ends up closer to such iconic bands as Sparklehorse, Grandaddy and even Elliot Smith. It comes accompanied by Television, a more vibrant song which drives heavier on the guitar lines and pulsing bass flow but for all its energy is kept in the ball park by Paul’s understated vocal and the chiming charm that balances out the more exuberant sonic displays.
This is pop painted in watercolour rather than the heavy handed, over applied oils of the big industry way of working. There is something wonderfully heartfelt about the lyrics, a real English, tea drinking, breezy, over the garden fence chat sort of vibe, rather than the usual self-aggrandising, cooler than thou rubbish that has become the norm. Maybe it takes a lad from Yorkshire to capture all of that in two and a half minutes!