this salty highway was denominator to everyone on it's banks
DEATH OF A LION TAMER
As a singer/songwriter, Kevin's intention was always to be sui generis; bringing his own type of artistic nuance to the project. Of the six tracks he wrote and performed for Absent Voices he says “I was more interested in the fact that the salty highway of the River Clyde was a portal. It was a gateway to good and bad; a conduit of many, many stories, and I tried to imagine what some of them might be.”
What would it be like to command respect and responsibility within your tribe; be a leader of men and women and lose your freedom? Kevin explores this very real possibility in his track 'He's Got a Name (Death of a Lion Tamer). A proud tribal leader who is enslaved physically is free in his mind
“He ain't no ghost, tied to a post
He's as free as you'll ever be
Cos' he's got a name”
This chieftain of authority is enslaved into the sugar trade. In his stoic mind he is a free man; free to think thoughts of home and not have all that went before snatched from him. As he looks to the sky he realises that it is the same sky that he studied in his life before slavery.
The music is acoustic over a beat of African drums. The aim was to create a mantra with an overlay of rhythmic drumming to create atmosphere and gravitas.
The dockside preacher who doubts all he once believed to be true, is the subject of Kevin's second track. “Who'd be the Prophet that was wrong” is the lyric that introduces this track. He examines the preacher's feelings as he stands on the dock doubting his convictions. He is but a man whose conviction is wavering, “Don't look at me, I'm only human.” Life on a dockside involved all manner of sinful activity and he feels not worthy of dispensing wisdom that he once felt would be the way to absolution. “Don't look at me,” says the Preacher, “I'm one of your kind.”
The Preacher's church is the dock and the dock is a different salvation to the many people who pass through after long sea voyages. His message falls on deaf ears and he is weary of trying to impart a message that he no longer believes to be true.
The Low Road describes the Preacher's depressive state of being unable to make a difference. He struggles to save himself and there appears to be little hope of saving any dockside souls. Dockside life was fast and fleeting. What the Preacher had held onto so tightly was slipping away. He could not convince himself, let alone the dockside souls, that a higher path would make for a fruitful life. Together with the dockside workers, he was taking the Low Road.
FLASH IN THE PAN
The theme of story-telling continues with the next track 'Flash in the Pan'. It tells the story of 'Stephen' who has to sail out to sea and leave a potential sweetheart behind.
Amongst the machinery of the dockyard and the frenetic pace of industry there nestles the possibility of many love stories - telling tales of the sacrifice of life at sea and the lovers left behind.
Taking the everyday human elements of dockside life was the muse that helped Kevin produce the six tracks for Absent Voices. “I wanted to focus on life in a town where the Clyde acted as an artery to the world beyond. This salty highway was the denominator to everyone on it's banks and there must have been many tales to tell as it ebbed and flowed, both bringing and taking away possibilities.”
“And the shape of things familiar
Stars in the sky
Remindin' us that we're all home”
“I'm here, but I'll be leavin'
My ship sails at dawn”