Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Ian Grimble and Richard Matthews of Communion Music at 2KHz, Crouch End, London
The sorrows are the highlights when they're in the hands of Leeds musician Paul Thomas Saunders. They are the celebrations that no one ever wanted, but they're here anyway and they're not to be dismissed. They deserve a handshake and a solemn acknowledgment. They deserve respect and observation. They are to be explored and mostly loved. They are those stinging nettles that bury themselves into the top layer of the skin and feel like knifings, like stabbings with the worst possible intentions. They hurt like hell as long as you keep them in, but once they've been removed, it's like night and day. It's a miracle how quickly the pain subsides and it's wiped clear from memory.
We're not sure that Saunders ever deals with those nettles that are extracted and he's then left with no memory of what caused him the pain that he endured. It's either that or he deals with situations that leave him no options. The nettles are staying in and there's no helping it. He's going to live with whatever digging and reminding they want to do to him.
He sings of life when it becomes something a little less recognizable. He sings of leaving a silhouette of oneself behind whenever the leg you liked the most gets caught in a steel trap and there's not a single good way out. He sings of getting frayed. He sings of love's harrowing reach, of its boundless demands and the varied ways that death masquerades as a salve, when it's nothing more than an albatross, as previously suspected. He delivers love to its bed, in a stumbling and weakened stake. It's still love, but it's slipped some. It's become a shade of itself. It's emptying an urn and letting the ashes of a body scatter over a garden, letting the spirit and the love of that person help something new grow. It's an amazing thought, whether the ashes of a dead person do anything other than wash away with the next rain or not.
Paul Thomas Saunders Official Site