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Rook – Shearwater

By Chris Peken

If, as Oscar Wilde postulated, ‘ambition is the last refuge of failure,’ then Shearwater are in trouble. However when that ambition is matched by talent and execution then failure becomes magnificence. Knowing one’s limitations is the greatest talent, and here Shearwater and singer/songwriter Jonathan Meiburg have combined their ambition with a brevity that so few appear capable of mastering. At a relatively succinct 36 minutes Rook does not out-stay its welcome, yet each minute is full of lush strings, delicate piano and an array of subtly placed less obvious instruments – dulcimer, vibraphone, glockenspiel, harp, and banjo all play their well-constructed parts. But as with previous albums it is Meiburg’s vocal posturing that carries listen and song alike on the same journey. Part Van Morrison part Scott Walker, it is the ghost of Tim Buckley that seems to haunt him most on Rook. Verging on falsetto at times, always tipping to-wards melodramatic but pulling back on the brink, Meiburg’s meditation on man and the natural world is well placed and well paced. With drama and delicacy aplenty, I’m sure even Oscar would approve of Rook.