"I have never before written songs that are so personal,'' says Shaky who starred in the stage musical Elvis! before having 33 top 40 UK hits in the 1980s. ''Some of the tracks directly relate to stories and situations about my family past, while others are more of a social comment relating to the world that my ancestors, and we, live in."
For example, the album's third single, Down in the Hole, was sparked by the discovery that Shaky's paternal forebears originated from Cornwall where men, women and children worked in the dangerous copper mines of Gwennap. When the mines started closing in the 1870s Shaky's surviving ancestors travelled overseas in search of work. Many stayed in their adopted countries, never to return home.
The video for the single (below) features a selection of 19th century photographs taken in the copper mines as described in the song's lyrics.
The album gave Shaky the opportunity to experiment and use instruments that he had previously used on stage but never before on a recording. Each story set the scene for the music and dictated which instruments were used. Down in the Hole features harmonica, Dobro guitar and harmonium, creating elements of folk, rock and swampy blues. In contrast, keeping the harmonica and adding banjo, flute and military snare, gave a sound that was reminiscent of the past, helping to paint a picture for the title track.
Behind Those Secrets and Lies demanded a dark and mysterious feel so a cello and bottleneck guitar, coupled with acoustic guitar in a minor key, were used for a haunting backdrop to guide the listener through the sadness of the lyrics.
Meanwhile, the anthemic rock of Last Man Alive, with its rousing mix of guitars, brass and piano, provides a welcome lift to close the album.