Originally released in 2012, this 10th anniversary reissue of Neil Halstead’s third solo album, is, to use a Chris Morris-ism, proof, if proof be need be that the Slowdive frontman does introspective Nick Drake-esque folk as well as he constructs beguiling and multilayered dreampop – which is saying an awful lot.
Both stately and understated, Palindrome Hunches is a mesmerising collection of songs that finds a perfect match to Halstead’s enticingly world-weary voice in the form his backing group, the Oxford-based Band of Hope, made up of Ben Smith (violin), Drew Milloy (double bass), Paul Whitty (piano) and Tom Crook (guitar). Together with producer Nick Holton, banjo player Kevin Wells and backing singer Aimee Craddock, they recorded the album to tape over a few weekends in the music room of their local junior school, recording them live without very much rehearsal. This goes a long way to explaining the album’s humanity and intimacy – and why LP’s gorgeous opener ‘Digging Shelters’ was used to devastating effect in the posthumously released James Gandolfini movie Enough Said. Palindrome Hunches really is British folk at its best.