I know it’s early in 2016, but I’ve already found my favourite video. It also happens to be the video for my favourite song of 2015, Put Your Hand In Mine, from Cardiff-based band The School, off their third album, Wasting Away and Wondering (Elefant Records).
Google tells me the meaning of “winsome” is “attractive or appealing in a fresh, innocent way”. And when The School – the fresh-faced, all-beautiful-in-their-own-way octet from Wales – eventually disband, WINSOME should be etched somewhere on their collective metaphorical epitomb (sic, Jennifer Saunders as Edina Monsoon in Absolutely Fabulous).
Directed by Jamie Holker, who makes music videos for Manchester-based production company Croftwerk, and filmed in the British Midlands near Ripley in Derbyshire, the video is a trainspotter’s dream with shots of the Midland Railway Station heritage site at Butterley, railway tracks, mostly rural surroundings, a local church and the attendant interiors
Holker frames the band in a succession of beautifully composed almost-still shots … almost still but for the gentle movement of the players: a windswept swish of frontwoman Liz Hunt’s A-line skirt, the assured glide of string section Kay Russant and Steph Doble on their violins, and the gentle tickle of bassist Ryan Cox’s magic fingers on his plank. OMG I could write a book about Ryan Cox, but then I’d just embarrass myself. And the reader. It’s the stuff of harmless, joyous crushes. The stuff that The School’s music was made for.
From the gentle breeze playing in everyone’s hair, to the carefully observed drops of rain on the camera lens (this is England, after all), Put Your Hand In Mine is a postcard-pretty love letter to the Englishness of both the pastoral environment and The School’s retro-tinged effervescent, uncluttered pop.
It’s the perfect accompaniment to a Motown-laced candy-sweet song that is at least in part (by Liz’s own admission) an echo of Vanessa Paradis’s 1992 hit Be My Baby – succeeding beautifully in recalling that song’s glorious uplifting quality, and an unexpected groovy treat all of its own.