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Music Review

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Every Valley


Artist: Public Service Broadcasting
Label: Play it Again Sam
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 07 July 2017

Set against a backdrop of industrial decline and neglected and abandoned communities across the western world, Every Valley, shines a light on the plight of the mining community in South West Wales. Public Service Broadcasting's (PSB) third album Every Valley tells the story of the rise and fall of the coal mining industry in South Wales...

Every Valley tackles what might seem a niche/specialist subject on the surface, on closer inspection it brings a much more universal topic to the fore: the once prosperous but now abandoned and neglected communities across the western world, who became dependent on certain industries that have since declined due to globalisation, mechanisation or other factors... The story that is told in this album can easily be translated into the stories of the people living in the declining rust belt communities in the USA, or the formerly prospering Pays Noir region in Belgium, to illustrate two examples.

Furthermore the album touches on how history has unraveled socioeconomic issues in these communities, and as a result created bitter divides in politics as witnessed in many parts of the world today. A huge amount of research went into this project, with Jon spending many hours interviewing ex-miners and historians in the area, which one of the most famous mining regions in the UK. The album also features prominent guest vocalists, and as well as Tracyanne Campbell on 'Progress', local superstar James Dean Bradfield of Manic Street Preachers features on one of the tracks. The Manics grew up in the nearby village of Blackwood, another South Wales ex-mining town.

I both loved this album, up to a point. I loved the music but found the constant sound bytes from Welsh mining promotional videos and documentaries to be both distracting and annoying. It's the same reason I dislike soundtracks which insist on adding dialogue over the score.

Now maybe the odd quote here and there would have been acceptable, but really... do we need an endless supply of quotes? Maybe a few at the start, some between the tracks and then some at the end... but it becomes distracting after a while and certainly takes away from the music.

Now, I know this was the point - to give a voice to the miners and the events - but in the majority of instances it feels out of place. Personally I would have preferred a double album one with the quotes (because it is interesting to follow the entire story just the once) and a second version with the quotes taken out.

Of this album's 11 songs (45 min, 01 sec) personal highlights include 'People Will Always Need Coal'; 'Progress [ft. Tracyanne Campbell]'; 'You + Me [ft. Lisa Jên Brown]'; and the beautifully poignant 'Take Me Home'.

Loved the music, but I thought it was very slightly spoiled with an over saturation of sound bytes.


Nick Smithson

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