Soft Like Me is the second single from Saint Etienne's latest album 'Finisterre.' Like the previous single Action, it is divided into CD1, CD2 and 12inch versions.
Each of the two CD singles have three songs. The album version of Soft Like Me is the first song on CD1. It is the only song that is taken from 'Finisterre.' When I first heard Soft Like Me on 'Finisterre' I thought it would be a natural choice for a single. I'm glad Saint Etienne agreed.
At this point the single has been out for a month, so I can say with certainty that once again Saint Etienne have released a sparking song that has failed to dent the charts. A review I read in Muzik was particularly hard on the single. Soft Like Me is an easy target to pick on. It has optimism and idealism: the first targets for a cynical mouthpiece. Saint Etienne have used guest vocalists before, so I won't harp on Wildflower's use as the female rapper (more a rhythmic storyteller) on the song. I like the lyrics and what they suggest. I don't think it is mad to consider being nice to folks.
Time and Tide is the highlight of this set of CD singles. It is a mid paced song with nice backbeat, good lyrics and melody, and background harmonies. The main components are the drum beat, bass guitar, and Fender Rhodes melody with a rainy Ray Manzarek Doors feel.
Shock Corridor is the last song on CD1. It is a slower song centered around Sara Cracknell's lyrics. Like Time and Tide, the music centers around drum, bass, and keyboard. There is some atmospheric guitar picking as well. I like the song, but I prefer the higher energy Time and Tide.
CD2 starts with the Mr. Joshua mix of Soft Like Me. His mix has just as much zing as the original. the difference between them is that Mr. Joshua's mix has a bit more emphasis on a snappy drum sound.
Abby I Hardly Knew You is a dreamy vocal song with bass, drum, and keyboard. As it enters the break I think of the keyboard in the Saint Etienne song The Way We Used to Live.
CD2 ends with the K.O.W. Radiophonic rework of Soft Like Me. I think the title is a nod to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. This version removes all the vocals except the chorus, which it bathes in echo. There is a floating synthesizer and a library music feel. This version reminds me of the treatment of The Beatles With A Little Help From My Friends in the 1979 public television movie treatment of Ursula LeGuin's 'The Lathe of Heaven.' That is to say, it feels like you are listening to Soft Like Me while in a dream, with the song echoing around your consciousness, not all of its fragments quite at your grasp.
With CD1 and CD2 of Saint Etienne's Soft Like Me singles, Bob Stanley, Pete Wiggs, and Sara Cracknell have given fans two singles with no repeated tracks and several worthy exclusive tracks.