We Were Strangers : Unforgiving War (single)

On the strength of a part remembered SoundCloud track we drove half an hour down increasingly narrow lanes into Snowdonia, parked and climbed a short, steep hill through the coldest and clearest night of the year so far to see We Were Strangers for the first time. They were opening a house concert in a large open plan lounge and kitchen, with sixty or so people shoehorned into the room by anticipation.

Live We Were Strangers are in essence Stefan Melbourne and Chloe Leavers - their performance on the small stage with minimal lights and a rapt audience was spellbinding, music stripped down bare and emotional to two voices and a guitar.

This song represents much of what they do well; sparse lyrics mapping out a story and, in this case, Stefan's emotive vocal articulating the deeper meaning. The combination of shimmering, echoing acoustic guitar, discreet synth and machine rhythm percussion does the rest.

This is a passionate and beautifully wrought song. The subject is the locked-in tension and regret of a failing relationship; it's an almost mundane subject by repetition, but the sheer restrained force of the performance of Unforgiving War makes the despair palpable, immediate and raw. Many people hope to write and play like this - but almost all lack the rare ability to accomplish it so completely.

On it's own Unforgiving War is exquisite - add in the potent live performance and an album due next year, and you have something very special happening.