Universal Thee – All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

‘All Watched Over by Machine of Loving Grace’ is the second album from indie-rock band Universal Thee. The five piece band is made up of vocalists James and Lisa Russell, guitarist Robin Spivey, bass player Andrew Perrie and Matt Grieve is on the drums. The band members are all from Edinburgh, which shines through in the distinct Scottish accent which can be detected in some of the vocals.

The album begins with ‘Why’; an indie track featuring tranquil harmonies. This is a solid start to the album. ‘Keep Falling’ follows the theme of soft, calming harmonies towards the beginning, however it soon picks up with its energetic guitar solos. ‘Speaker’ is a more playful track, opening with upbeat guitar riffs. The lyrics are simple and memorable, but the song becomes a little repetitive towards the end. ‘Xang’ is the next track, which harmoniously blends soft female vocals with the grungy sounds of the guitar. ‘Lost at Sea’ begins with sharp vocals, which soon mellow out. The guitar builds in energy and becomes a beautiful rock accompaniment to the melodic singing of James and Lisa. The male and female vocals bounce off each other making this track a definite ear-pleaser.

The next track, ‘Hey’ leans more towards rock, with a heavy beat and powerful guitar licks. This is definitely a stand out track for Universal Thee, and my personal favourite. In ‘Hamlet 3’, the music builds with the vocals, which alongside the up-tempo beat makes this song an enjoyable listening experience. ‘Sail Away’ begins with soft guitar strums which are then contrasted by the harsher sounds of rock in the chorus. This is echoed by the changes in vocal tone from the chorus to the verse. ‘Hounds’ has a fun opening with an indie/pop sound. When paired with the cheery singing of female vocalist Lisa, makes this an overall entertaining track. The final song ‘Light On’ ties the album together. It mixes rock and pop with sweet-sounding vocals to tastefully round off the album. This song slowly and calmly fades out, giving a pleasant ending to the album.

‘All Watched Over by Machine of Loving Grace’ is well constructed indeed. It is a step in the right direction for Universal Thee, and deserves wider recognition. The Scottish accent shines through in the songs as much as the talent, making this album one that should be shared. I would like to see much more of Universal Thee, and have no doubt that they will be better heard of in the near future.

Universal Thee – All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace = 9/10

Dionne Thompson

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