REVIEW: Let You Down by Black Dove
Black Dove have made their highly anticipated return after a year out of recording. They have come back, smashing through our sky-high expectations, with a captivating single and a beautiful B-side.
Based in Greenock, the lads are amongst those drawing attention to the Scottish music scene, which is flourishing with talent, flair and absolutely astounding artists.
‘Let You Down’, produced at 7 West Studios, is not what it says on the tin. It will do the exact opposite of letting you down.
From Hamish McGown’s first hit of the drum, which acts as a starting pistol for the explosive tune, so much energy is generated, exuding a coolness that is dangerously sharp. Plus, you can never go wrong with lots of “oohs” and “woahs”.
Despite the themes of heartbreak and regret, the track takes on a much needed infectious and buoyant hue. Conal Harrington’s vivid guitar hook, Ross McManus’ flawless harmonies, and the tune’s sing-along chorus are just some of the reasons Black Dove are one of the strongest upcoming bands!
“Everything is changing, I guess it wasn’t really meant to be. Now your broken heart is mended, and I wish I had you here with me” — Black Dove
After frontman Josh Cunningham sadly lost a loved one at the start of 2018, he found inspiration to write the B-side. Recorded at SoundShape Productions, ‘Wherever You Are’ is a breathtaking indie ballad with emotive lyricism that provokes deep feelings many of us can resonate with.
Cunningham explained: “It was a song that sort of wrote itself but I never did anything with it and wasn’t sure if it would really fit as a Black Dove song. After sitting on it for a while, I played it to Ross and he loved it. Everybody at some point has to deal with the loss of a loved one and I’m sure a lot of people can relate to the song.”
Due to the consequences of the Coronavirus outbreak, the band thought it would be the right time to release ‘Wherever You Are’. The B-side could offer solace to listeners who have lost or are unable to see loved ones. According to the band, the well-deserved response has been “great”.
Branching out from their vibrant indie-rock sound, ‘Wherever You Are’ carries an organic, comforting and mature quality. The track is perfectly poignant and provides consolation after losing my mum two years ago.
The slow and sombre introduction is incredibly moving. The expressive guitars and flowing strings possess great power. No words are needed to set the tone.
“I know you know just how much you meant to us, from up above”- Black Dove
The bridge’s drifting guitar ambience is the perfect backing for the impassioned vocals. The sustained lyric, “I know you’re there”, at the end of the bridge allows Cunningham to highlight his phenomenal vocal power. ‘Wherever You Are’ is laid to rest with melismatic portrayals of the lyric, “take your wings and fly”, creating a moment of hope that we all need.
Speaking to Alternative Atmosphere about their year-long break from recording, Cunningham revealed: “We had such a busy year in 2018, sometimes gigging 2/3 times a week, and we won the Best Band award at the IMA awards in Glasgow which was great to finish off the year. At the end of 2018, we weren’t really sure what we were going to do next. We don’t have a manager and sometimes there is only so much we can do to move forward at the same pace, but we wanted to cut down on the gigs so that we could focus on building a fan base that would come to every show, and build from that. We had some really good gigs in 2019 and I guess a bit of writer’s block started to kick in. We knew we had to follow up with a good release and it was just a matter of trying to get recording time booked and releasing it when the time was right for us to bounce back.”
Before lockdown the band were regularly gigging, with support slots for The Capollos, Glass Caves and Phil Campbell (The Temperance Movement).
Cunningham continued: “We love playing gigs everywhere. We have had some great nights gigging in our hometown and in Glasgow when we first headlined King Tuts as well as other cities. We have done a few short tours and played in Aberdeen and Dundee, and that is something we always talk about. We would love to go on as many tours as we can to build a fanbase around other cities.”
To keep fans entertained, the band have played a few live streams every week, including sets for Glasgowist, Sucker’s Quarantine Fest, and their own Facebookpage.
“It’s been a good opportunity to strip the songs down and even to play covers which we never do in our live sets.”
To see Black Dove perform from the comfort of your own home, tune into B12 Entertainment’s page on 10th May. The band will also be going live on Discovery Music’s page on 12th May.
Between live-streams, the band are also writing new songs. When describing the song writing process, Cunningham stated: “The song writing process hasn’t changed much with us. Myself and Ross are the main songwriters and tend to write separately at home and then bounce ideas off each other before playing the finished song to the band. We find it difficult to sit and write songs in a rehearsal space together so we always bring the finished song to the rehearsal room and build each other’s parts on it, so the process hasn’t changed much”.
If you love charming tunes with catchy choruses, I would highly recommend listening to Black Dove’s previous releases, including their hit single ‘Fake ID’, and ‘The Way You Try’ from their epic EP, ‘Still Calling’. Their music would be sure to impress fans of Catfish and The Bottlemen, Stereophonics and The Verve.
Both songs make up for lost time, and indicate the lads keep getting better. The tracks navigate us through resonance and reflection, whilst showcasing their remarkable artistry. Black Dove are going to be pivotal in the indie-rock scene in years to come. The 1990s were undoubtedly Manchester’s to lead, but after the awakening of talented upcoming bands and artists, the 2020s are going to Scotland’s. To help Scotland’s superior music scene rise to the top, listen to Black Dove now. Both tracks are available on all major streaming platforms.
This review was originally published on Alternative Atmosphere in 2020.