Back in 2009 one of the first local bands I chanced upon in my early days as a DJ was Pearl Divers. I found my way to them via Mike Leigh, the ex Fall drummer, who had chosen the group as his way back into the music business after a long absence.
Pearl Divers are the brain child of writer, singer and guitarist Carl Lingard. His initial work with the name was the impressive EP “The Boy Who Won The World”. Deciding to take his work live he formed a trio with Mike Leigh and John “Monty” Montague on bass, and following some early rehearsals the line-up was expanded with Tony Gilbody on keyboards and Jeff Black on guitar and MIDI instruments, HIgh profile gigs at Night and Day in Manchester and supporting Martin Bramah’s Factory Star, were followed by the addition of Ben “Spilla” Doherty on vocals/rap, and a more urban/soul direction away from the initial indie feel of the material. Several attempts to record an initial album , and the addition of other vocalists, including Danielle “MzDee” Carter, lead to the creative differences emerging between band members over the change in musical direction. Leigh left and went off to join The Blimp and Black. Montague and Carter formed Positronik. Lingard put Pearl Divers on hold for a few years.
Roll onto to 2014 and Lingard decided to try again with the Pearl Divers project. He recruited Gareth Johnson on guitar and Paul Greenhow on drums and convinced Jeff Black to rejoin the band, this time on bass guitar. Lingard’s desire to work with a female vocalist was realised when Nathalie Hayley joined. Lingard has been hard at work on new material and the band has played live at Salford Crescent.
Carl has always aimed to marry the Manchester Indie sound with Urban Music – the key example being the evocative “White Lines” the original band performed. Examples of the new work he has produced, and has been performing with the band, have been sent my way.
The newer material aims to continue that indie/urban approach but some extra twists and turns have been added to the mix. . First track “Beating Heart Of England” takes that shuffling baggie Madchester heritage and brings it up to date with jangly guitars and a catchy sing along feel. Carl delivers a laid-back rap and takes us on a trip to the dance floors of Manchester during a long hot summer.
“This Life” has a great 60s feel, I can imagine Nancy SInatra doing a cover of the song. Bacharach/David came to mind when listening to the changes and the glorious move from the verse into the chorus is stunning. This clearly demonstrates Lingard’s strength as a writer.
Lingard likes to inject variety into his sets and “Coming Home” is one that sits well in Pearl Divers world, but is completely different from the more pop oriented songs. A bluesy ramble with slide guitars and busy bass runs mixes JJ Cale with english pop elements to create a unique sound.
“Kingdom Come” goes to another place entirely, sounding like an Gibb Brothers classic delivered in a chanson style that changes into an urban chant which then morphs into a John Barry TV theme. Rich and mellow and utterly compelling.
“Something”, which appeared under a different guise in the first incarnation of the band, is a perfect piece of summer pop, merging blues guitar licks with a great Indie sound, Hayley’s pure vocal sound floats over a funky rhythm with a memorable hook making this a current ear-worm.
So Pearl Divers are back with great tunes and for my part I am very pleased. Lingard’s song-writing talent needs to be brought to a wider audience and he has now got a band to deliver his excellent songs.