Rich Martin and Ian Glover form the nucleus of a musical collective that go by the name of Soulsavers. Previous releases have ventured into the world of electronic and dance music, whilst “It’s Not How You Fall, It’s the Way You Land” in 2007 and “Broken” in 2009 featured vocals from the stirring Mark Lanegan.
On this release Soulsavers have recruited Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode to provide the voice for a collection of tunes that are a cinemascope of emotion and uncultivated passion. Gahan himself has been no stranger to personal turmoil and life affecting trauma, following an overdose in 1996 and a malignant bowel tumour in 2009.
Each song that makes up “The Light The Dead See” aches with poignancy and sentiment. The opening instrumental “La Ribera” sets the scene, almost like some spaghetti western soundtrack title sequence. “In the Morning” shimmers with strings and desolation, until the vocals swell up through the instrumentation raising the song to ardent new levels. “Longest Day” urges the listener to sing along in joyous contemplation, “This must be the longest day, and the night has yet to come” whilst “Presence of God” is the sound of an anguished spirit seeking redemption.
By the time we reach “Just Try” and “Gone Too Far” the listener may either be struggling to remain attentive to the melancholy or totally engrossed and indulged. By the time the listener has drifted through “Point Sur Pt.1” and onto “I Can’t Stay” the listener is put on to begin considering their very sentient being. The atmosphere created by these songs is by no means dark and unwelcoming, but somnolent and confessional. “Take” warns the listener, “There’s a price that you pay, with the games that you play, with that Devil” delivered with an intimacy that is almost disturbing. Probably the most animated piece on “The Light the Dead See” is to be found at the end with “Tonight” with strumming guitar chords and an almost stadium friendly temperament.
The instrumentation throughout is expansive yet delicate where it needs to be, and the voice of Gahan soars majestically through the hurt and despondency. The soulful backing vocals give the songs a real sense of occasion and dignity. The interplay of the strings, brass, guitar, harmonica, organ and female backing vocals is charming, and forms a perfect basis for Gahan’s vocal delivery. Listened to from beginning to end, there is the sense that a narrative runs through the tunes, with cinematic high and low points that guide the listener through the journey.
At times the listener may be unsure as to what form of anguish is being dealt with, be it loyalty, regret or mortality, as the lyrics are rich with metaphor. This could be argued to be its’ strength however, as many emotionally charged songs throughout history have been a “Rorschach Test” for the listener to impose their own meaning on.