“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…

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‘The Third Space’s second album explores the themes of love, family, and other concepts started in their debut album ‘Songs of the Feet’ in greater depth, further combining jangly, upbeat guitar riffs and their recognisably quirky lyrics to create another album of enjoyable pop/rock music for people who like their music to make them think.

‘The Third Space’ return with more interesting viewpoints, with their opening track ‘Papers’, making subtle digs at the ‘perniciousness of the British media’. Once again, they have succeeded in making politics fun, with the eighties-styled guitar-infused rock track leaving the listeners with thought-provoking messages from the outset.

The album consists of many deeply moving ballads on the loss of loved ones and the importance of family. The stories behind each song make the lyrics all the more poignant. The wistful tone to the lyrics in ‘Stephen Amongst Violets’ and the piano in ‘Song For Angus’ prove ‘The Third Space’s qualities in producing slower, more emotional tracks.

Once again, the band are able to perfectly balance the upbeat, rock tunes with the pathos-evoking ballads, creating a fluid collection of political anthems, witty perceptions and deeper messages on family and loss. I would thoroughly recommend this album to anyone who wants to be challenged by the music they listen to.

The 60’s pop harmonies and backing vocals of the first album can still be heard throughout in Losing with Grace, but other musical influences also appear. Such as “Papers” which is a sardonic synthy 80’s rock track attacking the destructiveness of the press.
I love the nonchalant delivery of the quite brilliant “Chemical Boy”, a song ‘celebrating the enabling properties of antidepressants.’ It tackles the normally bleak subject of clinical depression in an honest and humorous way: “You can probe my childhood looking for aetiology, but you’ll likely find an imbalance in chemistry. Give me a pill and show me joy. Yeah I’m a chemical boy!” It’s sung with a kind of Happy Mondays swagger.
The album title Losing with Grace is referenced in The Choices You Make which like “Far (From Where You Wanted To Be)” on Songs of the Feet explores how once we reach our middle years, we learn to reconcile thwarted dreams with where we find ourselves now. The wry, bluesy rock “Irony Blues” featuring sliding guitar and mouth organ recounts a guy feeling so trapped by the predictably conventional middle class choices he’s made that he’d rather be on a porch or a real jail just playing his guitar.
From American blues to American country in “(Just Another) Country Song” complete with twanging steel pedal guitar, but this one’s a lament about the country of America and not the usual loss of a lover. The feel of a country ballad is found in the gorgeous, string infused “Stephen Amongst Violets”.
“Entertaining Others” with its acoustic guitar, piano and flute is a satisfying fusion of sweet cynicism and regret with the optimism of reconciliation of a relationship.
The almost gothic rock track “Gone (The Light You Are)” is a lyrically stunning track written for someone close, but now tragically gone. “Beyond the map there are destinations we navigate to in consultation with your compass light of your star. The light that shines the light you are. …. In the night I see constellations, you shine a light in darkest places, your candle burns, your flame might flicker in storms and rains. Still the world it turns…learn to live again…”
The final track of the album “Song for Angus” is a touching and heartfelt piano and vocal piece composed and sung by Joe dedicated to someone who has incomprehensibly left this world prematurely. A brief addition of soaring sliding guitar and intermittent clock chiming are suggestive of our finite time on this planet.
For happier themes turn to the calypso vibe complete with trombone of “When We Were Kids”, “a love song” dedicated to Henk’s children.
Experience the brilliance of The Third Space for yourself and buy these albums! One of the best new bands around! And a question to The Third Space – when can we hear you play live?

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