English husband and wife duo The Rails – James Walbourne and Kami Thompson – have just made their best album yet.
Recorded in London at the start of 2019, Cancel The Sun – their third record – was produced by Stephen Street (The Smiths, Morrissey, Blur) and sees them moving further away from their folk-rock roots – Kami is the daughter of Richard and Linda Thompson – cranking up the electric guitars and embracing power-pop and New Wave, (‘Call Me When It All Goes Wrong’, ‘Ball and Chain’, ‘Waiting On Something’); ‘60s-tinged country-soul (‘Something Is Slipping My Mind’), and Beatlesy psychedelia (the title track).
Their gorgeous trademark harmonies are still in place and there are some folky ballads (‘Mossy Well’ and ‘Leave Here Alone’), but this time around, James, whose other job is as the guitarist in The Pretenders – has really cut loose and pushed his extraordinary playing to the fore. “We felt ready to make a big record – we’ve got the bit between our teeth,” they say…
SH: Congratulations on the new album – it’s brilliant. It’s very instant and direct – it doesn’t mess around. It has a harder, poppier feel than your last two records…
KT: If it was up to me, I’d have it in the old Pop/Rock section of Our Price, but that doesn’t exist anymore… This time, we didn’t rule anything out – we just wanted to make a bigger record. We’d always wanted to do that, but time and financial constraints often means you can’t. Our sights were set a little higher this time and we were more comfortable being at home [in London] – it all came together. This record is definitely more us.
Why did you choose Stephen Street to produce it?
JW: We wanted someone a bit different – who would take it forward – and who had perhaps more of a rock edge.
We were thinking of the sound of Graham Coxon’s [Blur guitarist] solo records – in-your-face guitar.
How was it working with Stephen?
KT: It was perfect – there was never a moment when we didn’t trust something he said. He’s so experienced and talented, so we could relax, take our hands off the reins and just play.
It was a really quick record to make. Ironically, we set out to do it over a couple of months, but we ended up doing it in a couple of weeks.
JW: He was a joy to work with – I wanted to let him really go for it – he made it happen and he made the guitars sound brilliant.