The Lion and the Wolf – Symptoms review

TLATWDespite the inference of a collective, The Lion and the Wolf is the performing moniker of singer/songwriter of Thomas George, who’s spent almost the entire year on the road. After a three week tour of Europe as main support for Rob Lynch in March, he’s been all over the UK and returned to mainland EU several more times. Taking pit stops to perform at the likes of Slam Dunk, Hevy and Isle of Wight festival, he’s racked up a total of over a hundred gigs, and is unsurprisingly known for his live show. His debut album, Symptoms, retains the lo-fi sound that’s shaped The Lion and the Wolf’s previous releases, and has created a raw, natural sound through the manner or production.

A sense of variety is high in the album, with short bursts of sound and fuller songs lying side-by-side on the tracklist. Opening Bandages comes in at under two minutes, an intricate and edgey snapshot of what the subsequent twelve tracks promise, with Colour being where the album truly opens up. With a voice that all but ropes you into the music and an understated and soft sound that envelops the track, this instrumental-heavy welcome sets the record in good stead, dripping with originality.

Another sub-three minute gem, Hand of Applause, throws an upbeat, folky vibe into the mix, and regardless of sounding a little withheld at times, the same sound still prevails, right until then remarkably abrupt close, before the burst of Perfect Threes takes hold. With Ben Howard-esque vocals, the song rises and soars along – well, for as long as it lasts, again shutting off at under two minutes.

One of the longer pieces on the release, November Saints marks itself as being acoustic-guitar heavy, and female intertwining vocals blend lusciously together to form a long, elegant and distinctly hopeful sound. Smooth and fluent, it’s one of the stand-out tracks off the record, before Tangled Tape’s echoing sound breaks open. Returning to a deeper, darker sound, Ghosts on Trinity plunges into a couple of grunge-esque moments, and clearer vocals carve the piece out before a dramatic organ close.

The Lion and the Wolf’s work is frequently described as “dejected yet hopeful”, and nothing showcases this better than Ink and Skin – the longing for youth shines through the music of this one. The clear and booming title track unsurprisingly ropes in a piano, and at time the vocals touch on something much like a choir, creating a mood of a dominant collect. Returning to the softer side, mellowed out The Hole that it Leaves flows along beautifully, flooding into the sort of track to elicit a swaying live crowd.

Whilst a title track is relatively common, a title taken after the artist’s name is less so for obvious reasons, and The Lion and the Wolf stands out for it. Whilst at just over two and half minutes it feels as though it would be more suited to open or close the record as opposed to becoming lost in the mix, the hauntingly beautiful sound sets it aside from the pack regardless. Blending vocals and a personal hint, this makes it as my personal favourite off the record, before penultimate Curtain Call pulls in the more intricate guitar work. Delicate yet atmospheric, the piece would make and apt finale, yet Green manages to better that. With almost random rises and falls, there couldn’t be a better way to close the collage of music.

It’s impossible not to fall for Thomas’s vocals, and the sound that builds around the track only furthers this albums intricacy.

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