It’s Nearly Tomorrow
Across the 90s and early 2000s Craig Armstrong’s music was everywhere, those hypnotic, enchanting arrangements that helped to frame the majesty of Massive Attack’s finest works, the symphonic sweep meeting up with trip-hop to create those alluring movie soundtrack moments, there were a couple of production albums outside of the film scores – a set of works for solo piano and then, album-wise, a lengthy silence.
Here is Armstrong’s first album in over a decade – and it’s instantly familiar, those same sounds, the lush strings and glacial piano lines, the use of beat as part of the arrangement, and with a handful of guest vocalists dotted in and around the instrumentals.
Look, a couple of times this almost dives headlong into Yanni-like mawkishness, but there’s something so stirring about Armstrong’s way, he’s able to milk this and still come out of it as having achieved sentimentality rather than saccharine nonsense. It sure helps when your backup arrives in the form of two Paul Buchanan assists. His work here is as good as anything from his Mid Air solo album or the dying moments of The Blue Nile. Chris Botti’s soft horn is helpful too, in creating that lush, lullaby mood.
Indeed, Botti’s prelude (Inside) to Buchanan’s wonderful All Around Love creates a one-two punch of stunning heartbreak, achingly beautiful, the sort of male longing we don’t hear expressed often enough in song, a tender vulnerability. Armstrong’s great strength has always been in how he sets these sorts of feels and feelings up, orchestrates a great sound of sorrow; one that’s never seemed more beautiful.