Boomkat Product Review:
An especially fine release, even by Preservation's high standards, Soil Creatures is the fifth album from Melbourne singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Paddy Mann. The Grand Salvo oeuvre most obviously invites comparisons with artists like Andrew Bird, Sufjan Stevens and other troubadours out there who favour a more elaborately arranged canvas to work with. Soil Creatures is full of down-played orchestration, harps, and even what sounds like a recorder ensemble, tooting merrily along to 'Ship', but Mann's voice and acoustic guitar remain at the engine room of this album, bringing to life the fingerpicked passages of 'Flowers' - an especially successful ditty that brings to mind Iron & Wine in its execution. Musically, this is a lovingly crafted album (a quick glance at 'Chimney's wonderfully elaborate chamber-folk confirms that much), and sonically the album holds together brilliantly, but the lyrics are far more elliptical, powered by a kind of domesticated free-association that probably works better aurally than it does in print. Reading through the transcripts in the rather nice booklet you might begin to think that English isn't even necessarily Mann's first language - it's just all so weird and dislocated, but when strung across the steady stream of musical coherence this album offers you just go with Grand Salvo's flow. The album keeps revealing highlights to the very end, serving up the sweeping harp motions and xylophone of 'Rain' and the supreme elegance of symphonic closer 'Sea'.