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  • Youmna El Halabi

London Grammar: Californian Soil — Talk a walk down

If you have never been lulled into an ethereal dream by Hannah Reid’s voice, you are missing out on an Indie music experience.

While Nottingham, England is mostly known for the renowned legend of the vigilante Robin Hood, in 2009, there was a new sheriff in town.

London Grammar was formed that year, when lead singer Hannah Reid and guitarist Dan Rothman—both originally from London, met at the University of Nottingham, and Rothman suggested they collaborate together. They were joined a year later by Northampton native Dominic ‘Dot’ Major on keyboard, djembe—a rope-tuned skin-covered goblet drum played with bare hands, originally from West Africa, and drums.

After completing their university studies in 2010, the band moved to London where they started playing at local bars, gaining a following and catching the eye of many A&R representatives.

In 2012, “Hey Now” was released on YouTube, and was an immediate success. In 2013, their first EP, Metal and Dust made it to the top 5 of the iTunes chart in Australia; generating a lot of hub.

This year proved to be a significant one for London Grammar, as a number of famous singles were released, from “Wasting my Young Years” that peaked at number 31 on the UK Singles Chart, to “Strong”which peaked at number 16. The band was also featured on Disclosure’s album Settle, on the track “Help me Lose my Mind.” By September 2013, London Grammar had put out their own album, If You Wait; which included one of their most famous song “Nightcall.” The LP peaked at number 2 on the UK Singles Chart, and Australian Albums Chart.

Their songs have been used on several TV series, and in 2017, the band’s cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” was used in the trailer for the BBC series Peaky Blinders.

London Grammar had been on a break since 2017, but have come back in full force when their first single in three years “Baby it’s You” was released in August 2020. It was later followed in October by “Californian Soil,” the namesake their brand new album that was released on the 16th of April, 2021.

It is a collection of 12 songs, and from start to finish you are transported into a reverie of all sorts.

From the wordless “Intro” to the haunting “America.” If I were to give a word to the wise, this album is best listened to with headphones in, eyes closed, in a candlelit room. But then again, this theme seems to be recurrent for any London Grammar song.

A particularly outstanding track that spoke to my very core would be “I Need the Night,” an echo to “Nightcall.” The entire album plays from start to finish in my home, but there is something especially touching in the lyrics that I cannot seem to shake, nor ignore the parallels between the two celestial songs.

There is a voice, it is chastising me

I was so cold, what have become of me?

Take all your limbs and wrap them 'round your neck

So they all laugh at your predicament

All of the boys and girls, all people in this world

Give me a dream and I will give you my word

If you need an escape from the harsh realities of pandemic-infested daily lives, this album is what you need in your arsenal.


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