Guessing what’s coming next from The Coral is revealed as a fool's errand as the band follows up their announcement of TWO albums for 2023 with the first bittersweet fruit of their recent collaborations, releasing the brooding broadcast of "Drifter’s Prayer" - narrated by Life On Mars and Dr Who actor, John Simm. Following up the runaway success of their 2021 album, Coral Island, the track is lifted from the post-script to that audacious double album, the physical formats-only, pirate radio release of Holy Joe’s Coral Island Medicine Show.
Being born to the unusual world of The Coral alongside their imagined Italian Western film soundtrack, Sea Of Mirrors, the band uses the Holy Joe… album to build a bridge from the vividly imagined island hangout they’ve left behind to the dustbowl Mediterranean film sets that now occupy their minds. Both albums are released on Run On Records in assoc. With Modern Sky UK on Fri, 8 September 2023.
With words written by regular band scribe, co-songwriter, keyboardist and poet Nick Power, Simm’s appearance as vocalist on a song by The Coral finds the actor in a position occupied by few others. Prior to Coral Island’s Great Muriarty (aka. James and Ian Skelly’s grandfather) taking the mic, no other lead vocalist outside the band had appeared on their recordings. Perhaps turning into an era of wider, ever-purposeful and carefully crafted collaboration, the band used the release of "Wild Bird" to reveal that it wouldn’t only be Simm, but fellow actor Cillian Murphy, plus Love guitarist Johnny Echols, whose voices would be detected over the span of the two, linked projects.
James Skelly says of the collaboration with Simm: “Nick had this poem and we thought that we’d do something with, like a murder ballad. He also had this acoustic, country-style riff so we recorded it in the studio and it fitted with the words perfectly but it needed someone to do the narration. We just messaged John, he’d already been to a few gigs, and he said ‘yes’ straight away. Nailed it perfectly. He’s a pro. It’s great to be able to see someone like that working, someone who is just that good at doing their job.”
Power adds: “We were talking about having a spoken word track on the album, but maybe bringing an actor in to voice it. I had the idea of this fairground worker looking back on his life, sort of like a eulogy to the old travelling carnival world and its customs. How those people were their own community, constantly on the move, drifting through England. And this person coming to terms with the modern world leaving him behind, in a way. John Simm came in and understood it right away. I think it took about two or three takes.”
Check out 'Drifter's Prayer' - BELOW:
Despite allowing "Drifter’s Prayer" to make its way into the digital realm, The Coral has sought to assure Holy Joe’s Coral Island Medicine Show’s gesamt kunstwerk, old-world value by retaining its full tracklist for physical release only this time around. Fans and collectors will be able to get their hands on copies on single-pressing physical vinyl, CD and cassette formats. Sea Of Mirrors is released in multiple, limited-edition and standard vinyl formats as well as CD, cassette and digital.
The story of Sea Of Mirrors and Holy Joe’s Coral Island Medicine Show began at Parr Street Studios, not only the long-term, chosen recording location for The Coral, but the geographical source of career-high moments from titans of music, including Björk, Echo and The Bunnymen and Super Furry Animals. Responding with determination to make the final album ever to be recorded at the now-closed studios, the band worked on a body of material that emerged to them as two distinct albums.
While still restlessly moving forward album-by-album, The Coral’s legendary status in British music is already assured by their run of hit singles, including "Dreaming Of You" (now on over 100 million streams globally and securing UK Platinum status), "Pass It On," "Don’t Think You’re The First" and "In The Morning." With ten albums to their name to date, six of those have reached the Top 10, including Coral Island and 2003’s No.1 chart success, Magic and Medicine saw the band nominated for Best Group at the Brit Awards.
The Coral is James Skelly, Ian Skelly, Nick Power, Paul Duffy and Paul Molloy.