“Lockdown Holiday” is TV Smith’s sixteenth album of new songs that were conceived, written, and recorded in lockdown Britain over the Spring and Summer of 2020. A record he never intended to make. In March, he was about to embark on a lengthy UK tour with Stiff Little Fingers and had more than fifty gigs planned for the rest of the year when suddenly everything changed.
After only three dates the tour was abandoned, he headed home, the country went into lockdown, and even worse, a couple of days later Smith and his partner fell ill and realised they had gone down with the Coronavirus. The singer, from his sickbed watched with utter disbelief as the mismanagement of the situation got worse and worse, and when he started to feel well enough again, he did what any writer would have done, he began to write about what was happening.
I was actually at the last concert that TV Smith played, which was at the Birmingham O2 Academy on Saturday 14th March, so this release was always going to spike some interest with me.
The album kicks off with `The Lucky Ones` a wonderfully energetic song relating to catching the virus and being a survivor or one of the lucky ones, not a celebration but an acknowledgement of the situation. It`s a captivating anthemic song which has had me singing it since I first heard it.
There`s another song of defiance with `Bounce Back` and it almost sounds as if the singer is attacking his guitar. A real message for those who are struggling from someone who has been through it is summed up with the line “even though you feel so alone, you will bounce back”.
`Artificial Flowers` would on the face of it seems to be about our ambivalence towards our fellow citizens and our self-obsession. The singer harks back to a time before the “selfie” but nowadays we do what we want and care little, which is summed up in the line “we show our love is real with artificial flowers.” There`s more of the same with `Fake News` where there`s a kick back against all the misinformation we`re fed regarding the current crisis.
Title track `Lockdown Holiday` is a snipe at the skewered society that we live in but that lockdown has been a leveller with no sights to see or friends to meet but the recurring question is “whose gonna pay?” and ends with the telling “YOU!” Although not named it`s no hard slog to recognise who the clown is in `Send In The Clown` with it`s telling line of “It’s hard to see the funny side of life when you are feeling unwell, no taste and no smell.”
`The Race For Last Place` is an interesting concept which seems to relate to being told things won`t hurt us, to go with the flow. look the other way, while they set the pace in the race for last place. We have an amusing sort of ambiguous encouragement of not fighting for your beliefs and just `Join The Mainstream` where everything will be good for us.
`Let’s Go Back To The Good Old Days` is an enjoyable slice of irony that sorts of points out that things weren`t all that great before the virus clouded the picture with right wing racism, austerity, and low pay. The singer adopts the persona of the Covid virus patiently waiting to reappear in a second spike of infection on `I Surf The Second Wave.` A more melodic quietly shared number which is more unnerving as we are now living the prophesised second wave.
The album closes out with `Going Nowhere Fast` a final thought on the demise of the virus? who knows but an almost hymnlike offering with some interesting harmonies.
“Lockdown Holiday” is an interesting release, thought provoking and at times political. An album that should never have been recorded but for a trying set of circumstances. This punk troubadour is constantly on the road, but this infection put paid to that and as they say through darkness comes light. However, inspiration arrives, TV Smith continues to be an advocate and a voice for those who haven`t a voice.