This was the Scottish band’s third album and the follow-up to 1999’s smash hit The Man Who. That record is also excellent, and ushered in an era of emotional rock music alongside Coldplay’s Parachutes. But for my money, The Invisible Band is an even grander achievement.
Today’s track was one of the initial inspirations for my ’31 Numbered Songs’ series. I’ve been a big fan of this song since I first heard it nearly two decades ago and at one point I considered making it the kick-off track of a 2-week series on songs numbered 20 through 29. Fortunately, I didn’t jump the gun and we all got to discover some obscure rap artists in the 1-10 range.
I discovered Travis’ “20” as a hidden bonus track on the band’s acclaimed sophomore album, 1999’s The Man Who. It’s one of three hidden tracks that are each as strong as anything on the album proper.
That album is chock full of beautiful, fragile tracks like today’s Song of the Day, ‘The Cage.’ Lead singer/songwriter Fran Healy has a knack for penning aching choruses that make perfect use of his distinctive tenor voice.
This fits my theory that some artists are just fit for one or two records but not long-term consumption.
I own dozens of records by the likes of Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan, Aimee Mann, Lucinda Williams and others. I can’t imagine any of those people releasing an album I wouldn’t want to own, even if it didn’t live up to their previous work.
It’s funny how sometimes you lose track of an artist. As a rule, I buy pretty much every new release by the musicians in my collection, the exceptions being those artists who proved to have only one or two strong albums among many. But in those cases, I usually came to that conclusion after trying to keep up with their output and realizing I was seeing diminishing returns.
Sometimes, though, I’ll be right there with a band or singer and then somehow lose sight of them. I owned and loved every Dar Williams album, for example, when one day I realized she’d released two more records without me even knowing.
Today’s song was going to be ‘Pensacola,’ a gritty slice of southern blues rock by Joan Osborne, whose debut album Relish is a woefully under-appreciated gem. But Ms. Osborne, or her handlers, apparently police YouTube like the SS, shooting down any videos containing her songs. I even tried uploading a clip with a completely misleading title but the system scanned the audio track and booted it.