For the first time in a while, I have managed a Sunday to myself; a chance to indulge in the Sunday Rituals of my own making. Little things that when taken together mean a lot.
To begin, grinding the coffee, firing up the oven to warm, opening the backdoor to let the cats out. Coffee on the kitchen step.
The sun is out but it is early autumn chilly. Nice. I cup my hands around my mug and survey the wreckage of the garden. A busy end to the summer has brought neglect, vegetables gone over, soft fruit rotting, plants I can’t remember seeing in flower now covered in empty seed pods. There will be alliums everywhere next year. Some serious maintenance is required, but not today. Today I simply harvest anything from the herb garden that isn’t going brown – some basil (surprisingly), coriander (still), parsley (flat and curly) and a few bits of mint (lemon). Everything else was over.
Back in the kitchen, the herbs are washed and stripped and then everything goes in the blender with a good glug of olive oil, plenty of garlic, some rock salt and a squeeze of lemon.
No pasta. As I said, I’ve been busy and the cupboard is bare. Except for lentils, there are always lentils. So, I make a dhal. Garam Masala, turmeric, not much chilli. Warm not hot.
Served in a wide bowl with a swirl of the herb pesto through it, it was, honestly, an unexpected success. Deep, warming, autumnal-coloured comfort cut through with a freshness from the jewel-green pesto. It really shouldn’t have worked but it did.
Replete and reclining on the sofa, the cats and I turn our attention to the most important of our Sunday Rituals – Sunday Afternoon Listening.
This week, Daniela Orvin’s album Home on the Seasides on Postcards label from Berlin.
Gentle and, at times, playful piano and some quietly epic synths over a sprinkling of subdued electronics and background noises, this album is exactly what you want on a Sunday afternoon to yourself. It has a melancholy air, but it knows it and is happy with that melancholy. Within that framework, there are passages that are oddly epic and uplifting; the piano gives way to a swelling synth that sounds for the world like something from an 80’s soundtrack yet is without a twang of retro. It’s a deft combination that catches hold of your attention; this isn’t just another tasteful piano workout.
But it’s what happens next that is the sucker punch. Daniela’s voice. Wordless but full of emotion. It is heart-flutteringly affecting. Used super-sparingly, it is yet another ace up the sleeve of this highly accomplished and captivating piece of work.
This album has got so under my skin that I can’t let it go. I have listened to it no end of times, each listen catching something new, some little detail, something fresh within the warming, comforting whole. I can’t wait to listen again.
Home is released on 19th October
For a more in-depth review, I suggest reading Chris Dooks over at Irregular Crates
Just a small extra word – apart from the composition and the playing, one of the things about this album that makes it so easy to repeatedly listen to is the amazingly sympathetic production. It’s spot on.