The Blue Nile- High (Sanctuary)
review by Joe del Tufo

Track Listing

1. Days Of Our Lives
2. I Would Never
3. Broken Loves
4. Because Of Toledo
5. She Saw The World
6. High
7. Soul Boy
8. Everybody Else
9. Stay Close

Every eight years or so, like some magnificent celestial event, we are graced with the presence of a new Blue Nile release. Heralded by legions of critics and musicians alike, the music of the Blue Nile has largely fallen under the radar of popular culture. As music has shifted and morphed over the last 23 years, the Blue Nile sound has changed very little. It is a testament to their unique vision that any of the tracks on High, with the possible exception of She Saw The World, could fit right in on any of their previous releases, extending back to the early 80s. Where with any other act this might be a taken as criticism, with the Blue Nile it is simply a reflection of the purity of their music. In many ways, their music is as much an attitude, a commitment to sonic and emotional perfection, as it is collection of notes and lines.

I have long contended that Paul Buchanan could sing warning labels and make it sound compelling. The passion and range of emotion he is able to express is, in this reviewer’s opinion, equaled by none. Indeed, there is rarely much happening on the surface of a Blue Nile song. Skimming their lyrics is generally underwhelming- simple fragments of being and slice-of-life tales. But infused by the earnestness and unwavering sincerity of its members, these songs not only come to life, but become something of a spirit themselves. Their music becomes a soundtrack to being.

Like any great art, the music of the Blue Nile is somehow able to make the listener experience profound emotion as if it were their own. Indeed, it has been said that their music sounds more like being in love than love does. So it was with great anticipation that I listened to their first full-length since 1996’s Peace At Last. And, since we generally only get an average of one Blue Nile song per year, I decided to note each track individually.

Days Of Our Lives. High opens with this very low key track- a minimalist peek into a simple life. A sketch that allows the listener to supply the detail. Lines like “An ordinary miracle, is all we really need. An ordinary miracle, you and me” can only be brought to life by a gifted vocalist.

I Would Never. A simple, soulful love song. This one reminds me of the Hothouse Flowers at their best. Again, few could sing lines like “I could never turn my back on your love” and will it with as much intensity as Buchanan. This track recalls Happiness from their Peace At Last album- gorgeous layered acoustic guitar over bass and synthesizer. Here we get the first great lyric from High: “When the sun is going down, and there are cars against the sky, I have seen my hometown in your eyes.” The singly plucked and muted acoustic guitars crisscross like feathers through this track.

Broken Lives. An aching elegy for the return of a lost love. Nice keyboard over synthesizer effects here. Another great lyric- “Counting the TVs, counting the stars, it’s so unfunny I don’t know where you are.”  The track builds nicely to a series of layered guitars and perfunctory keyboard.

Because Of Toledo. Simple and beautiful- this structure showcases the ‘less is more’ approach the band have long been grounded in. A very simple vocal over a single acoustic loop. Because Of Toledo appears to be about a man trying to clean up his life, or find his center within the stillness and dust of middle America. A wonderful fragment- “A girl leans on the jukebox in a pair of old blue jeans, says I live here but I really don’t live anywhere.” The strongest lyrics on High can be found on the track. “The women that you love sometimes are the water that you drink” and “Lipstick killed the cocaine traces” are instant Blue Nile classics. Something of a Twin Peaks-like peek into the dark side on simple American life. Closes with a gorgeous trumpet outro.

She Saw The World. This is new territory for the Blue Nile- a high-energy, almost breakbeat track. Like many of their lyrics, much is implied and bundled to lines like “She saw the world and she wanted it all, what can I tell you?” This is certainly the only danceable track on High. Another nice visual on “Out on the corner a policeman is sending flowers.” This track is essentially about excitement and possibility- the fire of youth- and the music drives it appropriately.

High. The title track is an emotional monster. With the grandeur and gravity of its musical cousin “Let’s Go Out Tonight” from Hats, we’re asked the eternal question “Where are we going with our lives?” It is about being engaged in life- “In the bowling alleys, in the easy living, something good got list along the way… we could be high.” It is a look at the tragedy of routine- “Look at the morning people, going to work and fading away.” Big and profound, High is three and a half rapturous minutes at the heart of this disc. A lyrical indictment to living life on autopilot.

Soul Boy. Another straightforward love song elevated by the depth of expression in Paul Buchanan’s voice. “Take me as I am, like a soul boy.” Probably the least interesting track here, still a solid and worthwhile listen.

Everybody Else. More rhythmic than any track other than She Saw The World. “I don’t wanna be anybody else, when are we gonna be ourselves?” This one is a more upbeat lyrical sister to High- about celebrating being true to your nature. It hints to something more specific on lines like “I woke up good this morning, I’m gonna change this time. Downtown Lights-like guitars support the big voice and thumping rhythms.

Stay Close. Opening like an industrial ballad, the track appears to be a tender wish for a child leaving home. Again Buchanan’s voice captures a complex but near universal feeling by addressing it simply- “Stay close to me, stay close…” We see a hint of lyrical complexity/ personalization with “Blowin’ down the street, to see you one more time, is the world still at your feet, can you let somebody love you?” Warm synthesizer pushes the song forward and leaves a tenderness in the ears of the listener as the disc fades.

Electronic pop is not typically loaded with emotion. It tends to be catchy but sterile- danceable at best. Strangely it is the temperature of The Blue Nile’s music, the degree of warmth and sadness instilled by the three members, that makes it so unique memorable. Simple lyrical moments supported by sparse, often almost minimalist instrumentation. somehow arrive as blossoming moments of pop perfection. The experience is much like walking through the most sublime and enchanting museum, where each piece captures the specific emotion of a moment as uniquely as the next. It is as magical as music gets. Here’s looking to 2012, for the next Blue Nile release.

marillion- happiness is the road
tilt- million dollar wound
mickey simmonds- the seven colours of emptiness
ukz- radiation
pain of salvation - scarsick
icon- icon II, icon live
the pineapple thief- tightly unwound
planet p project- levittown (go out dancing part II)
nosound- lightdark
dengue fever- venus on earth
art of all- morgan
marillion- somewhere else
abigails ghost- selling insincerity
blackfield- blackfield II
damien rice- 9
the who- endless wire
the beach boys- good vibrations
the pineapple thief- little man
the killers- sam's town
tom petty- highway companion
hem- funnel cloud
emm gryner- the summer of high hopes
jeremy enigk- world waits
razorlight- razorlight
gps- window to the soul
iron maiden- a matter of life and death
thom yorke- the eraser
richard butler- richard butler
the flaming lips- at war with the mystics
ray davies- other people's live
david gilmour- on an island
nosound- sol29
jackson browne- running on empty 5.1
neal morse- ?
king crimson- 21st century guide to king crimson
shriekback- cormorant
depeche mode- playing the angel
pallas- the dreams of men
my morning jacket- z
riverside- second life syndrome
roger waters- ca ira
various artists- backs against the wall
riverside- out of myself
sigur ros- takk
killers- hot fuss
queen + paul rodgers- return of the champions
journey- generations
yes- the word is live
emmylou harris- heartaches & highways
van der graaf generator- remaster series
rob dickinson- fresh wine for the horses
annie- anniemal
dredg- catch without arms
foo fighters- in your honor
dream theater- octavarium
belle and sebastian- push barman to open old wounds
the go-betweens- oceans apart
porcupine tree- up the downstair (remaster 2005)
coldplay- x & y
nine inch nails- with teeth
aimee mann- the forgotten arm
van der graaf generator- present
christopher o'riley- hold me to this
glen phillips- winter pays for summer
new order- waiting for the siren's call
ben folds- songs for silverman
john doe- forever hasn't happened yet
trashcan sinatras- fez
adrian belew- side one
kaki king - legs to make us longer
longview- mercury
stereophonics- language. sex. violence. other?
for against- echelons
over the rhine- drunkard's prayer
kathleen edwards- back to me
kasabian- kasabian
porcupine tree- deadwing
the wedding present- take fountain
super furry animals - songbook
arena- pepper's ghost
snow patrol- final straw
rpwl- world through my eyes
tori amos- the beekeeper
kino- picture
monarch- the grandeur that was rome
spocks beard- octane
the wonder stuff- escape from rubbish island
richard barbieri- things buried
the pineapple thief- 12 stories down
the pineapple thief- 8 days later
the innoncence mission- now the day is over
zero 7- when it falls
pain of salvation- be
california guitar trio- white water
jelly jam- 2
tim bowness- my hotel year
van halen- the best of both worlds
glen burtnik- welcome to hollywood
charlie mars- charlie mars
porcupine tree- voyage 34 (2004 remaster)
saint etienne- travel edition
lanterna- highways review
hellboys- cha cha with the hellboys review
persona non grata- the fine art of living review
tegan and sara- so jealous review
guadalcanal diary- 2x4 reissue review
voices in the wire- signals in transmission review
roger waters- to kill a child/ leaving beirut review
luna- rendezvous review
jim white- drill a hole in that substrate and tell me what you see review
the drive-by truckers- the dirty south review
the blue nile - high review
lovedrug- pretend you're alive review
twilight singers- she loves you review
keane- hope and fears review
winds- the imaginary direction of time review
kristeen young- x review
asia- silent nation review
macha- forget tomorrow review
crystal method- legion of boom dvd-audio review
kevin moore- ghost book review
marillion- don't hurt yourself singles review
attrition- dante's kitchen review
rush- feedback review
tortoise- it's all around you review
division of laura lee- does not compute review
peccatum- lost in reverie review
iq- dark matter review
bass communion- ghosts on magnetic tape review
the push stars- paint the town review
virgin black- elegant... and dying review
marillion- marbles review
the streets- a grand don't come for free review
the veils- the runaway found review
all about eve- let me go home review
john young band- live review
mary lou lord- baby blue review
the divine comedy- absent friends review
pink floyd- the final cut (2004 remaster) review
prot-kaw- before became after review
jeffrey gaines live review
mocean worker- enter the mowo review
starsailor- silence is easy review
pineapple thief- variations review
lloyd cole- music in a foreign language review
david sylvian- blemish review
spock's beard- feel euphoria eview
guy manning- press pack sampler review
magellan- impossible figures review
the tangent- the music that died alone review
john gorka- live from grace church photos and review
hothouse flowers- into your heart review
charlotte martin- on your shore review
rasputina- frustration plantation review
stellastarr*- stellastarr* review
vast- nude review
sparks- lil' beethoven review
the damnwells- bastards of the beat review
dave gahan- paper monsters review
king crimson- power to believe review
fish- field of crows review
porcupine tree- in absentia dvd-audio review
new model army- great expectations review
antimatter- unreleased 1998 - 2003 review
catie curtis: dreaming in romance languages review
the gathering- sleepy buildings review
twilight singers play blackberry belle review
vienna teng- warm strangers review
opeth- lamentations dvd review
courtney love- america's sweetheart review
blackfield review
anathema- a natural disaster review
nearfest 2003 coverage
neal morse solo photos- metuchen, nj
porcupine tree broadcast
alpha- stargazing review
david sylvian at the tla
emm gryner at the point
barry andrews at the tin angel
tweaker:2 am wakeup call review
cure- join the dots review
fish live from the tla with john wesley
spearhead- everyone deserves music review
miles hunt (wonderstuff) live

full archives coming soon!


Studio M Live
818 North Market St, Suite 2R
Wilmington, DE 19801



Copyright © 1997-2004 Studio M Live, Inc. All rights reserved. All content on is owned by Studio M Live and may not be reproduced without written permission. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this policy. If you are looking for Custom Injection Molding you are at the wrong site, and should really be at Applied Tech Products.