Zephyrs, The - For Sapphire Needle

(NOIS1123: 0725765462107)

Release date: 1/27/2023

1. Leatherback
2. God Loves a Trier
3. December
4. Snowline
5. Can't Tell Us Apart
6. Blue in the Face
7. I Tell You What
8. Bolder
9. How Have You Been Today
10. Aliens

The Zephyrs release their brand new album “For Sapphire Needle” on January 27th 2023 alongside Spanish comrades Acuarela, their first since 2010. With only 2018’s double A-side single “The Witches” and “The Crown Prince of Lies” in between, this represents their first collection of new songs in 13 years: from short and tightly constructed country-folk introspections to sprawling, spaced-out psychedelia, including a couple of extremely sharp pop glimmers and a killer Morricone-like instrumental.

Originally conceived of as a series of 4 track EPs based on the seasons in which they were created, the recordings spanned into a patchwork of sessions with long-time collaborator and producer Michael Brennan at his Substation studio, neighboring a naval port in Rosyth. The ongoing recording sessions were made possible with the kind support of Robert Dillam, drummer for The Zephyrs and ex-guitarist for Creation band Adorable.

With songs ranging from short and tightly constructed country-folk introspections to sprawling, spaced-out psychedelia, what resulted was an album near to double length. The collection presented as “For Sapphire Needle” is a cut-down selection of these songs. The record opens with “Leatherback”, a Crazy Horse inspired wall of distorted guitars drawing on lyrics from The Zephyr’s first album and pre-history, followed by the four songs earmarked for the first of the seasonal EPs – Winter – whose artwork was photographed in the alley behind Traceyann Campbell’s (Camera Obscura) house in Glasgow.

Elsewhere on the album, “I tell you what” had much of its writing and recording initiated in a wooden shack near Aviemore and “Bolder” tells the story of overheard bar-side conversations and delayed flights in Denver airport, where lizard people live underground and some say the new world order lays dormant. The domestic depression of “How have you been today” precedes closing opus “Aliens”, inspired in equal measures by the maturation as social control science fiction of The Tripods and the schlock b-movie imagery of Rocky Erickson’s The Evil One.

The album is the work of older and more consistent The Zephyrs. Stuart, David and Robert joined by collaborators: guitarist John Brennan and keyboardist Will Bates. The songs and sounds are sculpted out of slabs of time with friends at the Substation, a de facto weekly youth club for musicians who refuse to grow old. The triple bridges of Queensferry, the shipbuilding cranes of Rosyth docks and Babcock's shop - one of the few places in Scotland you can buy a real periscope over the counter - are just some of the backdrops as the Zephyrs rehearse for nobody but themselves. Yet, ever since Jean-Luc Picard himself told us that "this is not a holiday", it has become a unique and unbeatable way of peering up above the waterline, reinventing themselves and returning to the scene.

Indeed with 10 songs in 46 minutes which wade across Gram Parsons and Big Star, Slowdive and spaghetti Western: folk, rock and shoegaze… as if they were trying to shorten the path to the California sky passing through Scotland and then Almería in Spain. 

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