“Losing With Grace” is the second outing for Tunbridge Wells, UK, based indie pop band “The Third Space”, comprising long-standing friends Joe Farthing and Hendrik “Henk” Kleinsmiede, supplemented by various friends and collaborators, including musician and engineer William Manwaring and producer Kevin Paul.
This album overlapped with the first album (“Songs of the Feet”) like a kind of temporal Venn diagram. The difference is that the songs on the first album were old songs (some touched up and modernised this year, 2013), whilst the songs on this album are newer songs.
There are three very “The Third Space” themes on the record: love, politics and finitude.
The guitar-infused doo-wop of “Love Defined” ponders the nature of love itself and proffers forgiveness as a key tenet; the calypso ditty “When You Were Kids” is a straightforward love song from a parent to his or her kids; and “Entertaining Others” describes a protagonist coming to terms with the aftermath of a divorce, determined to “have the time of his life”.
The more political songs are “Papers”, which laments the sometime apathy of the electorate and the occasional perniciousness of the British media and “(Just Another) Country Song” which explores the myth of America.
Lastly, the songs that ponder finitude are the rocker “Choices”, which is something of a re-telling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet; the violin-infused “Stephen Amongst Violets (From Memory)” and the slow blues of “Gone (The Light You Are)”. “Stephen Amongst Violets” is a rumination on loss and memory, written for someone close to Henk who lost one of her brothers (Stephen) in a light aircraft crash. After the accident, she had a recurring dream in which she recollected a scene from childhood in which she was a young girl again, babysitting Stephen as a toddler in a park filled with violets. The closing track, “Gone (The Light You Are)” is a song about Joe’s nephew, Angus Ellis, who tragically died on May 09, 2013, aged just 29. All the events mentioned in the songs are things Angus actually did in his short time on this earth.
Most of the songs were written from May to the end of August 2013, in Paddington, London, where Henk was living at the time. A common pattern with “The Third Space” is that songs are initiated by Henk and then subsequently worked on by Joe, and so too many of the songs here. As always, however, both Henk and Joe are credited as co-writers.
The first album’s title (“Songs of the Feet”) was a pun. So too, this title, “Losing With Grace”. It was a phrase Henk had talked to his fifteen year old son, Willem, about in connection with football. And an idea that he considers important. To retain dignity even in defeat. (An apt motto for life?).
But the phrase could also be applied if you play a competitive game (like football) with a girl called Grace on your team…and you subsequently lose. Then you are also “Losing With Grace”. Henk has two dear American friends, Jeff and Carrie Gothelf, who have two daughters – Sophie and Grace. Henk remembers making that joke with Sophie in Fish! Restaurant in Borough Market, London, one evening, and just really liked the ambiguity of the phrase.
This album is dedicated to the memory of Angus Vincent Ellis (09 September 1983 – 09 May 2013). May you rest in peace, sweet prince…