When Gently Tender emerged from the ashes of The Palma Violets (without Chilli Jesson, but with Celia Archer from The Big Moon, and guitarist Adam Brown), I didn’t realise the band name could have as easily referred to their rather sedate release schedule. Of course that little world wide pandemic of our time slowed many a project, and so it was a pleasure last week to hear the release of new single Dead is Dead. Apart from a track added to a compilation last year, this is the band’s first release in three years.
I definitely remember loving seeing Palma Violets live for their mad energy, and the term Gently Tender could also refer to this band’s slightly more considered approach. Dead is Dead is definitely a strong chanting indie anthem but there’s a more mature, more controlled vibe here. Sam Fryer’s vocals take the lead, and like the people we love, his voice is perfect for their imperfections. Vocals are backed by a strongly melodic forest of sound from electronic, to brass to guitar.
The theme of the song relates to a plea for us to think about death, in that it allows us to better appreciate the current and what we are doing, as well as to think about how we might all connect in some way after death. Its not a sentiment to fear death, but to take advantage of its certainty, to guide our choices.
Perhaps it’s a slightly unusual song theme, but Dead is Dead reminds me of a sentiment towards death expressed by philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, which has always found a little home in my brain: “The certain prospect of death could sweeten every life with a precious and fragrant drop of levity – and now you strange apothecary souls have turned it into an ill-tasting drop of poison that makes the whole of life repulsive“. Don’t forget Nietzche also said: “without music, life would be a mistake”, so this is a wise man.
I am excited to hear that Gently Tender took a little inspiration from my own home town (Monmouth) and went to the local and famous recording studios, Rockfield (Oasis and Queen both recorded their most famous tunes here), and so there is a Gently Tender album due shortly. The band have said this track was actually written in 2019, so it has been a long time coming. Given Gently Tender have released just 6 wondrous tracks in 4 long years, and with Dead Is Dead at the top of the tree, a whole album will batter and gladden my heart hard.
* images taken from the band’s social media