Death is bewildering. Something beautiful, precious, is gone never to be seen again. Our cries of anguish, the wrenching pain of our dejection, the awful agony of our newly discovered and unwanted aloneness is a heartbroken call to anyone and to everyone to recognise the irreplaceable value of what has been lost. The abject removal of a uniquely familiar presence in our lives is the rending of everything that has been built together across a life time, no matter how short, and the loss of all the hopes and dreams, the plans and the anticipation for a happily shared future.
Joy Davidman is reported to have told C.S. Lewis shortly before her own death from cancer: ‘it is easier for the one who goes first’. Believe’s stunning sixth studio album Seven Widows is an exquisitely conceived and emotionally penetrating protest which carries the raw cry of bereavement directly from this smouldering heart of desolation. It speaks of the profound sadness and aching silences which remain with us forever. And it unflinchingly cherishes the suffering of a love that refuses to surrender or to be overcome by death.
We suffer because we love. We cry out in desperation because the pain of their absence is more real than any presence and the reality of their being gone is so much more tangible than their being alive once was. Mirek Gil’s brilliance in the writing of this album is in taking the stories of seven widows and creating musical narratives which tell the simple tale of the what was and now is not, and how this reverberates in the lives of those who are left behind.
In the process it marks a magnificent – even triumphant – return to form four years after the rather underwhelming The Warmest Sun in Winter (2013). The seven stories translate into seven tracks, the shortest of which comes in at just over eight minutes, which in turn creates an invaluable sense of unhurried space. There is no rush to tell the story; the heart speaks in the way it needs to be heard and the music has a corresponding sense of organic development natural timing.
What has changed is the return of Satomi’s inspirational violin playing, sadly marginalised in previous releases, but now serves as the textured, dynamic heart which beats so effusively at the thrumming heart of this new musical vision. It brings character, presence and voice to the sound stage and engages you with flashes of insights, perceptions and moods. It says ‘Come, look at this; over here, listen to this.’ The playing is delightfully suggestive, a muse and guide which gently shows us the way.
Gil’s guitar playing is mesmerising in the voice it gives to the empty pain of loss, to the tears of despair, to the lonely wail of isolation. Robert Kubajek’s drumming brings heart, vibrancy and breathes life into the tumultuous turmoil of emotions which ebb and flow throughout each story. It is the perfect mix with Przemas Zawadzki’s bass playing which really speaks of the anger often associated with hurt, with the relentless circling of thoughts, the mind which cannot and will not switch itself off, each memory recalled a further stab of loss.
Throughout it all new band member Lukasz Ociepa provides the perfect vocal performance which rides the seas of grief from anguish to forlorn emptiness, from hollow hopes to heart aching resentment, self accusation and the keen sense of injustice. The album is an incredible vehicle for the melodic, at times symphonic, expression of the emotions, thoughts and feelings we go through at the end of a life. It is perfect in its construction, elegant in its execution and an absolute delight to listen to.
Above all else, however, Seven Widows does something even more important. For those who are left behind, it shows how music can redeem the memory of suffering, how it can preserve the meaning of what our lives have been and how, by telling musical stories of those whom we once loved and whom we still love, they continue to live in our hearts. This is a supremely beautiful album, with the potential to become an immensely important project, which works on so many levels to let those whom we mourn live again.
1. Widow I (10:49)
2. II (9:08)
3. III (8:12)
4. IV (11:42)
5. V (8:35)
6. VI (8:37)
7. VII (8:19)
Mirek Gil – guitar
Robert “Qba” Kubajek – drums
Lukasz Ociepa – vocals
Satomi – violin, keyboards
Przemas Zawadzki – bass
Music and More Records, Poland
25th October 2017
This review originally appeared for The Progressive Aspect