Self-expression is at the core of all creative pursuits. Dancers express themselves through movement, actors through acting and musicians through sound; this is what singer-songwriter Craig Gould is all about. Using his music as a catharsis, Craig Gould, as with so many other artists, manages and overcomes difficulties he faces in his life. Described by The Further as a “mixture of country music and alt-folk”, the UK-based artist tells stories and connects intimately in that Jeff Buckley/Leonard Cohen style. The latest addition to his well-received discography is the single ‘Captain of the Seas’.
The sophomore single from Craig, ‘Captain of the Seas’ is a smooth and flowing melody tipping the listener into a sonic bubble filled with ethereal sounds. Unlike his debut track ‘Ain’t No Place To Hide’, the new song is less upbeat with a strong sense of melancholia. An acoustic-inspired approach only enhances the melodic desperation incorporating soft piano and a string section. I suppose, the core concept of mental health challenges in the material also adds a heartfelt tenderness through the poignant lyricism.
Honouring the anniversary of an event that prompted his music, ‘Captain of the Seas’ marks five years since his hospitalisation after collapsing at Birmingham New Street. Craig shares that he was found “…covered in blood with rail staff and paramedics around me trying to keep me conscious.” Fortunately, despite the heavy blow to his head, there was no damage, and the collapse was diagnosed as a severe mental breakdown due to stress and exhaustion. ‘Captain of the Seas’ explores his journey from breakdown to mental health difficulties and the support needed to survive.
What I find intriguing is not how the melody represents the tragedy of living with depression and PTSD, but how Craig’s vocals float atop the tune with a brutal rawness. As soft as his dulcet tones may be, the significance of the lyricism packs a powerful punch with its sentimentality. Is this the new Leonard Cohen of the UK music scene, not so much vocally but in his meaningful underlying messages? I think it might be.