Song of the week this week comes from Brighton’s singer-songwriter Lewis McKale, a Billy Bragg-ish harmonica and guitar combo breakup song from his forthcoming album, Self Help Tape.…
Retrospectively shouty, Thanks For Nothing is as anti-Against All Odds, as Dylan’s Positively 4th Street, but if that’s not selling it to you, it’s a moreish grower with a unique composition, ideal for a damp spring evening as you watch rain drizzle down the window with lukewarm tea in a chipped mug….which is what I’m currently engaged in, because it’s better than BBC1.
Got to rain, though, hasn’t it?! Likewise, musicians must express themselves, and this is heartfelt simplicity at its best.
What is a psychedelicat, a tin of magic mushroom flavoured Felix?! His picture on the tin certainly displays some suspiciously dilated pupils, but this exaggeration maybe just artistic licence for commercial purposes. In any case, they’re not as dilated as the kitty on the cover of a new album by Marvin B Naylor and Rebsie Fairholm, a Gloucestershire-Hants duo who operate under the pseudonym Psychedelicat; justice sufficient to take a listen……bring out the lava lamp……
Because, a kindly Manchester chap who was always sending me seriously outrageous noises he dubbed “psychedelic” has finally got the message. I don’t mean to be unfair, but music, whether it be as described, a mess of every known subgenre since rock n roll, or not, it must have harmony and melody, or it is borderline industrial noise. Seriously, listen to it under the influence of a single aspirin will likely find you gripping onto the sofa suffering a psychotic episode!
I felt he lacked the concept of psychedelia, for it is surely supposed to be benign, calming and mellowed, inducing a positive karma, rather than a full-blown Cheech and Chong fashioned freak out. On the other hand, when Marvin sent us the opening track of this album, Like a Delicate Psychedelicat, called Ark, as a submission for our Julia’s House compilation, while I was impressed, I wouldn’t have branded it psychedelic; mellowed and beautiful, but nothing particularly Sgt Pepper about it.
So, in the dark wee hours in a village on my milk round, I wedged the air-pods in with the illusion it wouldn’t be half as psychedelic as it said on the tin, especially with this Anthony Burgess approved cat on the cover, the pet of Alex or his droogs. But the glorious Mike Oldfield chimes and reeling soft vocals of Marvin and Rebsie of Ark are merely characteristics of the anticipation of an LSD trip, and before long I was beginning to suspect another milkman had dropped some liberty caps into my travel-mug of tea!
By track two, Steer by the Stars, you begin to obtain the illusion that you might not be in total control of your own mind, as you would if indulging in hallucinogens, without actually having to. That’s the exquisiteness of this, it’s a beautiful journey, to Itchycoo Park. Unlike the excruciating juxtaposition of random noises of our Manchester friend, this just flows gorgeously, like the perfect mellowed trip. If I go AWOL now, they’ll likely find me swaying cross-legged on the village green with flowers in my hair like it was some 1969 San Francisco love-in! “Oi, where’s my pint of semi-skimmed?”
“Like, hey, man, just, like swirling among the milky way, tee-hee; come, sit, can you see it?!”
A pipes and acoustic guitar instrumental flows for the next couple of minutes, then the soothing vocals of Rebsie returns for Green Adieu, to make The Byrds sound like death metal! “Don’t be deceived by the opening track-Ark,” Marvin messaged me far too late, I’m horizontal now, “there are several different styles!”
With a delicate beating drum, Icy Window is trippy, as we move positively from beatnik to hippy, to the sounds of the renaissance. It’s the little chimes and swirly effects amidst the tunes which exhales this impression of underground counter culture of yore, yet still there’s more going on. Sixteenth century triple-time dance shanty unexpectedly comes into play, with a version of John Dowland’s Captain Digorie Piper His Galliard, which Marvin describes as “complete with a psychedelic freak-out, and lots of harmony singing throughout,” akin to what The Horses of the Gods are putting out.
This is an accomplished eleven track strong album in which Marvin and Rebsie are clear on their approach, and if it’s lost in time against everything since the rise of punk, I suspect that is precisely the aim. As Like a Delicate Psychedelicat settles to a conclusion, you are immersed in its gorgeous portrayals of pliable soundscapes, lost in its forest of musical delights. Of harpsichords, twanging guitar on Promenading to the ambient finale, Bright Hucclecote, the only issue with this superb album for the counterculture bohemian of yore, is what to listen to afterwards.
Drained of inspiration, there’s a comedown on the horizon; abruptly you cannot connect the dots of your modest explanation for the meaning of life involving a dreamcatcher and some leftover twigs, and hey, who dumped that milk-float in the middle of Stonehenge?!
Salisbury-based acoustic rock duo John Illingworth Smith and Jolyon Dixon play The High Post Golf Club, between Amesbury and Salisbury this Friday 2nd December, and celebrate that it’s their 100 gig.
Although the duo had been collaborating musically for over three decades, gigs dried out proir to 2019, and they stopped, as Jolyon vaguely explained, “for one reason or another!”
He told of how around the Christmas peroid of that year, “John and I were chatting about how we missed doing gigs, wondering if we should maybe get a set together and have go at performing again as a duo.”
“We wasn’t certain if anyone would want to listen,” Jolyon continued, “if we could actually get any gigs at all, or even how to get the songs working with just the two of us playing.” Today it’s still a wonder to us how they manage such a gorgeous sound as a duo, but they do! At Bishop’s Cannings’ CrownFest this summer they stole the stage following two heavy rocks bands, and to see Illingworth stamp their mark on a cover as technical as Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, or The Beatles’ Hey Jude, is something really special.
To maintain a pub circuit, Illingworth have mastered the cover scene with a plethora of memorable and sing-along rock classics, but neither are they strangers to creating originals, knocking out two breathtaking albums to date. This is where their relationship with Salisbury’s Tunnel Rat studio producer, Eddie Prestidge, comes in handy.
“Our good friend Eddie encouraged us to give it a try,” Jolyon said, “offered to become our manager and handle the bookings. So, we gladly accepted and sure enough we got our first booking in February 2020, with several more following soon after. Of course, early in March the lockdowns started and we couldn’t go out and play. We were gutted, but, undeterred we used the time to make a new album of original songs and we did gigs whenever the restrictions allowed.”
“Well, this weekend will be our 100th gig, So we would just like to say thank you so so much to all the excellent venues that have booked us, the weddings, parties, festivals, celebrations and absolutely everyone who has come to see us along the way! It’s been an absolute blast getting to this point. We still love doing what we do, and hope to make it to our 200th gig!”
With the trajectory these guys are flying on, I estimate that’ll be around spring! What more of an apt venue name, then, for their 100th gig than the High Post?! But seriously, these guys could bring joy to punters and provide a cracking night to any pub. I’d wager they could even raise the morale of the Queen Vic in Eastenders given half a chance!
Congratulations to John, Jolyon and Eddie, and hope to catch you again soon, guys.
A little late for the party, as ever, I’ve been procrastinating, and my computer is equally as listless; failing to save my original words on this. Meanwhile Newbury good guy, but welcomed regular on our circuit, Joe Hicks has been busy with a debut album launched yesterday, worthy of a rewrite……
Titled The Best I Could Do at The Time, Joe is seriously playing it down, like the nerd at college who tells you they “haven’t done much” for their assignment, so you follow suit only to find them offering a feasible cure for all known diseases in a presentation with U2 providing the soundtrack, while the best you can offer is a scribbling of your pet cat, which you did on the bus journey there.
The opening tune, Sail Away, for example, is far punchier than David Gray’s appellation of the same name, and we won’t contemplate sailing down the Rod Stewart route. Though it’s best pigeonholed like Gray’s, as folktronica, there’s a whole lot more going on here from this stalwart who could just as easily fit comfortably into a blues dance as he could a folk festival, and does.
The blurb suggests The Best I Could Do at the Time is “a journey through many of the emotional peaks and troughs we go through as humans,” Joe explained, “and more specifically me as a musician in such uncertain times. It’s about acknowledging them, living in those feelings for a while and ultimately finding the hope we all have within us to take control and rise above the worst of them. It’s about doing the best we can with the tools that we have.”
The first thing to hit you is the sheer production quality, a euphoric yet upbeat anthemic joy from the off, Sail Away, sustains the timeless pop formula, making him balance on the edge between aforementioned folk and blues, and allowing this album to flow tidy, but traverse any given pop subgenre at will, while retaining originality and stylised inimitability.
If One More Step, the timeless pop second track is a prime example, it builds on layers like a contemporary hit of say a George Ezra-Bruno Marrs hybrid, Maybe When It’s Over follows, and this stretches back further, reeking of unruffled seventies soul, like Curtis Mayfield.
Four tracks in and you’re safe in knowledge to accept anything, Pieces is sublime acoustic fluff, and there was a line in the subtle skank of Lost in Love, “oh, such a reckless emotion,” where I paused for thought on a comparison which I couldn’t quite put my finger on, until it came to me; the velvety vocals of Paul Young, especially when he sang Come Back and Stay.
Mirror Mirror reflects an indie side-order, while Out of My Mind surprisingly nods of township jive, designating a hint of Paul Simon’s Graceland. Hand in Hand settles the pace once again to this euphoria, so that even if the narrative traverses the downhearted at times, it’s always a musical ride with the glass half full. And herein is my point; this is ageless pop goodness, borrowing from what went before, but fresh and contemporary throughout, which is the even balance of magnitude.
The final trio of tracks on this eleven-strong album returns to the early eighties pop formula with, Alive, folktronica goodness with the inspiring Make It Home, and Weightless polishes it off with the pop roll of The Corrs, or something along those lines, though the whole shebang holds itself in its own pocket.
It’s a wonderful album, deservedly to be considered a remarkable achievement; The Best I Could Do at The Time huh? Well, the time is nigh. Having made a name for himself as a session guitarist, Joe Hicks was ‘BBC Introducing Artist of the Week’, directly from his first solo single in 2017. Since he’s built up a sizable online following, touring the UK and Europe, appearing at CarFest, The Big Feastival, Are You Listening? Festival, Pub in the Park, over thirty Sofar Sounds shows and slots supporting Sam Fender, James Walsh and Starsailor.
Here in Devizes, he’s regularly appeared at Long Street Blues Club and Saddleback, and is always a delight to chat with; just a genuine modest talent, of which this album truly blows the lid off his cover. I got your number, Hicks; bloomin’ amazing album, my son!
Arriving just in time to catch Swindon schoolteacher Garri Nash by weekday, ambient acoustic musician N/SH by gig-nights, at one of the early mini-festivals of The Crown at Bishop’s Cannings this summer, I’d missed local covers band Paradox play before him. It perhaps wasn’t the most appropriate follow, Paradox roused the audience with lively renowned covers, and N/SH is at best a niche market of downtempo original compositions.
Though it’s in the recording studio, or at a music venue geared towards original and acoustic artists where we see him shine. Recreational Trespass is out today, up on Bandcamp with pressings forthcoming from Genepool Records in Plymouth. It’s an album amidst a prolific discography, though Garri himself states he’s “still the ‘new boy on the block’ out there as far as music is concerned.”
And what he does is new, not least unique, if the track Afterstorm on this release gives you goosebumps about the intro to U2’s The Streets Have no Name, yes, it sounds similar, but stays with that intro’s mood, symbolically N/SH’s style, it doesn’t bang into the heavy rock riff, it rarely “goes off.” Neither is dub a component, with its wildly adjusting tenors and erratic tempo changes. This just softens, simple as electronica outfits such as Tangerine Dream, but with rock’s ingredients to boot.
They all glide mellowly, fragments of abstract thought, and also, unlike the ambient house of The Orb, or KLF, I find myself scrambling for comparisons with, neither do they linger too long. There’s no soundscape of winds blowing, or a dog barking in the distance for twenty minutes prior to a beat kicking in, they’re comparatively shorter, clips, often hazy and artistically composed; when one chain of thought expires, the song does too, occasionally abruptly, and it’s onto the next, like a rough book of juxtaposed ideas.
If I’m to make comparisons, you’d have to imagine Cat Stevens with modern tech. N/SH’s innermost mind must be a perpetual swirl of ideas, if he wrote comedy, it’d a sketch show rather than a sitcom. But comedy doesn’t come into play here, dunno why I mentioned it really! Solemn and dejected the themes wallow, often hinging on limb, lo-fi and distant, as if you’re only a passer-by in this reverie.
I tried to address where this inimitable style came from. Passing off my ambient house acquaintance, of student days of yore, Garri explained “for me, the ambient is more influenced by Sigur Ros, Fink, etc, which is more chilled. I know Ambient House has its own genre but I’m told mine is indie, alternative. BBC use this for my genre, and now some electronic.”
“Folktronic,” I said was a term penned by David Gray, and I like this tag, but N/SH felt it sounded too Americana to suit. “I’m definitely not that,” he expressed, “or folk, which I’ve been labelled with before but hey, it’s what people hear.” Though a lengthy conversation pursued around precise genre-labelling, we found common ground on the ethos of nah, mate, against pigeonholes, they’re for pigeons only; I’m just trying to pin it down for descriptive purposes here.
Yet I find myself troubled in pinning it, it’s acoustic with soundscape backing tracks, it’s artistic expression equally as much as music, and I’m a sucker for the alternative rulebreakers. For others, I guess it’s Marmite; that said, I blow their advertising slogan out of the window, because I can take it or leave it!
Engulfed in this album though, it takes a few listens, adjustments from the norm, and there’s a lot going on subject matter-wise, poetically dishevelled and sporadically misplaced, it makes for an interesting listen. Alone on a showery eve, it’ll make your cup of tea go cold, as you stare at raindrops descending down the window, consenting it to draw you into its melting portrayals.
For want of content during lockdown I broke borders and publicised about music worldwide, gradually crawling Devizine back to its original ethos of focussing on local happenings. Pardon me if I don’t get all Royston Vasey on this EP, recorded in the South of France, for the reasoning is twofold; Paul Lappin originates from Swindon only partially significant, mostly it’s because for music this good I’m willing to break any rules about content I might’ve once made!
Through the album The Boy Who Wanted to Fly, if in October 2020 I raved about the Britpop goodness of Paul and his band, the Keylines, a following live unplugged and largely acoustic release Christmas last year, Live at Pink Moon Studiossimply knocked it out of the park for me. Stripped back and set within an intimate lockdown performance, Live at Pink Moon Studios not only reinforced the absolute brilliance of Lappin, it earmarked its place in my all-time favourites, outside the confines of what we review here.
No pressure then, Paul, if I don’t compare this new release to other items currently in review, rather provide assurance to our readers, this again dreamy, mostly acoustic new EP Flowers in the Snow, is immediately enchanting, best paralleled with John Martyn, Jeff Buckley, or Nick Drake, the latter of whom I’d imagine Paul to cite, being the studio name refers to a Drake album.
Though, I feel at times, aforementioned comparisons are somewhat lost in their own era, Paul reflects this too, his work never retrospective, it sounds fresh for the now, as Britpop comes of age, this is matured indie, favourably over a beechwood fireplace in a cabin recollecting times past, with a customary glass of wine.
Three average-length tunes make up this EP, though as suspected, that’s all which is average here. A tale of better times on their way begins the proceedings, a best served acoustically title track. It smooths the soul, quite literally. Moodier soundscape introduction of subtle guitar riff following for track two, Blue and Gold, brings out the best in Johannes Saal’s drums and bass, and Thomas Monnier’s subtle congas.
“The rest of my band were busy with other projects,” Paul explains of springtime, “I spent a week at Pink Moon residential studios in the south of France working on some new ideas with producer and recording artist Saal.” The result is this EP; three songs loosely linked by the theme of the seasons and mixed on a beautiful 1980’s GDR era broadcast desk. “The download includes a 14-minute bonus track of all three songs linked together, as was originally intended.”
Okay, so I’m guessing spring on Flowers in the Snow, dead reckoning Blue and Gold is summer, but the last tune confirms, it’s winter; Not Hiding Just Sliding is perhaps the most experimental, such a beguilingly unassuming melody, holding you out to dry in want for more. This is an exceptional set of flowing songs, no two-ways about it, if the seasons really came and went as smoothly as this, I’d still be wearing a t-shirt and khaki shorts through the bleak midwinter!
In the words of the great Suggs, “but I like to stay in, and watch TV, on my own, every now and then,” after three gigs on the previous weekend, I opted a weekend off, albeit I was with the family, and succumbed to Britain’s Got Talent for my entertainment, one little part of me wishing I’d headed down the Southgate.….
To rub salt in the wound, Swindon-(I think)-based Cobalt Fire, who were providing the sounds at Devizes most dependable pub for original music last Saturday, also released a debut album called Butterfly, so naturally I wanted to hear what I missed.
Self-defined as a fusion of “the retro sound of 90’s grunge and post-punk with a modern take on folk,” I can see where they’re coming from, and it’s no new thing for them, formerly known as Ells and the Southern Wild, the band developed their fresh sound from acoustic roots, and yes, there’s tinges of this still in them. Though their bio suggests they formed in 2103, I gather there’s either a typo or a gothic timelord in there! But in their switch to electric they strive to retain the core features of the songs, “creating a more muscular beast in the process,” they put it.
And they’ve certainly achieved this, Butterfly, usually more bug than beast, is a boom of emotional overdrive, as grunge commands, with echoes more of Evanescence than Nirvana, what with Ells Chadd’s haunting vocal range. It packs punches from beginning to end, the finale of which, Another Round, particularly poignant to this nod to acoustic roots, middle tracks like His Words Lie Heavy breath an air of eighties post-punk, ah, goth tinge, Siouxsie Sioux style, while it begins strictly grunge, with those rising and falling echoes of emotive authority.
The magnum opus, though, is three tracks in, Crimson Red summarises everything great about this potent four-piece, it’s dynamitic, driving.
It’s basically ten professionally executed, blindingly touching three-minute heroes, in a fashion not usually my cuppa. But if I sing praises for a genre more me, that’s easy work, for music to make me consider oh yeah, I like this though pigeonholing obligation says I shouldn’t, the result is even more impressive, and with Butterfly I’m near to breaking out some multi-belt buckle platform boots, growing my hair and dying it black!
This is a powerful and emotive creation, indulgent of all rock subgenres, yet beguiling grunge, and it never strays from its unique sound. See now, I’m sorry I missed you guys, another time and I’m beeline; embarrassingly for BGT too, though I’ve given my best cat ate my homework excuse, and though I doubt you’ll turn Simon Cowell’s frown upside-down, going on this album, you’d have got my golden buzzer.
Ah, it’s all lies, anyway; not sure my hair will grow back!
It’s always a warm greeting as you enter Trowbridge Town Hall, even if, like me on this occasion, you’re running late…..
Prior to my arrival I digested the fact I’d likely forgone the supposed support act, Gavin Osborn, but was dammed if I’d miss Gecko, as since reviewing his sublime second album Climbing Frame back in October 2020, I’ve been aching with the understandable desire to see him pull it off live.
Mellowed piano song oozed from the humble hall ahead, oh no, I figured, Gecko has already begun. Such it is that Gavin recently resigned event coordination at the hall to the capable hands of then sound engineer, Kieran Moore, I assumed he was billed as a kind of farewell to his previous position, unmindful I’d emerge from the Hall a Gavin Osborn fan too. Even by the evening’s culmination I was also dubious of suggestions the two were collaborative, or if it was just banter between them.
But it seems a tag-touring-team is a reality, and given I’d mistaken Gavin for Gecko in the vestibule, who could be more apt to work with for the reptilian-named poet-esque singer? For luckily, Gavin was still on the subtle stage, virtually stripped bare of instrumentation save a banjo, microphone, music stand and randomly placed hardback chair.
Yet a guy looking remarkably like photos I’d used of Gecko accompanied him on a piano, tucked away by a side door. After the song I’d made my stealth entrance to was over, the pianist sat behind me. Uncertain glances behind affirmed, if there was a gecko in the room it was undeniably him, giggling at Gavin’s witty prose. I suppose this, coupled with their styles so similar I mistook the pair, should’ve been damming evidence this was more than a headliner and support act thrown in for sentiment, but what can I defend myself with, naivety caused by surviving on powernaps?!
In this, is the delight of the communal venue too. If there’s a stage green room it’s unused every time I visit; awaiting performers merge into the audience. This is no venue for egotistical celebs, and with barely raised stage and modest lighting, it’s a non-gimmick venue which bases solely on performance rather than dazzling affects. Professionalism and proficiency given, if you can hold an audience spellbound with such minimal affects and props.
Both did with bells on, and while I suspected the case with Gecko, Gavin was the surprise element. Akin to Gecko, Gavin is more storyteller than singer, though splices of prominent points were executed through great folky vocals, and highly amusing prose. Unlike Gecko, Gavin’s baseplate is folk, who through exceptionally crafted verse reminded me of the sentimentality of our own folk hero, Jamie R Hawkins.
Perhaps more akin to Beans on Toast, lacking Ozzie tinge, through observational narratives he weaved through subjects with spellbinding accuracy, hinging on familiarisation; I identified with many, particularly the amusing banjo led ditty of an aged fellow sneaking out to gigs while his wife seemed blissfully unaware in her slumber! But with heart-melting twists, Gavin wraps them up amusingly, either echoing retrospective contemplation or hinting at his political stance.
Time for Gecko’s opening song; could be anything less than the hilarious start of his album, Can’t Know all the Songs, which counteracts those who shout requests. Virtually unplugged he executed highlights of the album acoustically, and gave us unheard of tunes too, passing off his lack of backing as witty repartee. Such as pausing the song to switch from singing to kazoo during an amusing and uplifting tale of the Tamworth Two pigs, Butch and Sundance, who escaped their fate at a Malmsbury abattoir in 1998.
On this note it’s appropriate to highlight the major reason Gecko is so utterly entertaining, for not through particular quality of musician, though he is a natural, rather his choice of content and subject is so original, and his method of metaphorically weaving it into a more general point. Who writes a song from the POV of escaping pigs, or a dog sent into space? But better still, who can bend such narrative into a point you identify with? It’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull, in song.
It’s a classic formula attributed to authors rather than songwriters, and Gecko reigns as either, acting with pseudo-confidence, encouraging audience participation to save him hiring a gospel choir, planning out a cliché encore by hiding behind the piano, even submitting profit margin differences between buying his CD here and streaming his music.
I think I put too much emphasis on hip hop in my album review, as his rap-fashion tendency contradicts his indie-pop overall, making it his unique style, part nerdy, part too cool for skool, but through stripped back live performance it is clear his devotion is with the latter, indie-pop acoustic goodness. A fashion with ageless attraction. But whatever pigeonhole you opt for, it’s undeniably entertaining.
If I’ve an only criticism the show was too short, the comeback is both Gavin and Gecko can suck you into their stories so time passes unnoticed, coupled with my late arrival of which I’ve only myself to blame!
Another wonderful evening at Trowbridge Town Hall, building a reputation for introducing a variety of interesting and upcoming acts, affordably; you need to be putting future dates in your diary.
If you need a breather from the perpetual cycle of cliche Christmas song mush, do yourself a favour; Paul Lappin & The Keylines released a live EP last week, it’s as “name your price” on Bandcamp, and I’ll wager my Christmas stocking and all of its contents, you’ll eternally thank me for the advice.….
On the 12th November 2021 Paul Lappin & The Keylines invited a few close friends and family to Pink Music Studios in France for a chilled evening of wine, food and live music. This EP is a recording of five of the songs performed during that session. For a tenacious link to our ambiguous local rule, note while now residing in France, Paul is originally from Swindon.
Back in October 2020 we fondly reviewed his studio album The Boy Who Wants to Fly, celebrating its vibrant Britpop rock, immersed in some astute and genius song writing prose. And in turn, we were allowed to use the outstanding single Broken Record for our Julia’s House charity compilation. For which, you might suggest, I’m duty bound to sing the praises of everyone who contributed, to which I’d reply, yeah, only partly but unnecessary, just shut up and listen to this; Live at Pink Moon Studios is utterly gorgeous.
If Broken Record packs a punch, and The Boy Who Wants to Fly meanders between forthright rock and tenderer acoustics, this little piece of wonderful revels in the latter. So much so, it smooths out of the restrictions of a label like Britpop, though subtle shards of it remain, and is comparable to acoustic folk rock from way beyond the subgenre, say, as steady and emotive as Nick Drake.
In the past I’ve made comparison to our own song-writing local legend Jamie R Hawkins, in their shared ability to twist a narrative so deeply into sentiment, tears will well; this EP comes closer to my point than I’ve ever heard from Paul. It’s so wonderfully placed subjects, wistfully glides your mind away, on the journey with Paul, like all good acoustic should.
The first two tunes, After the Rain, and Lying Awake in the Dark both come unplugged versions from The Boy Who Wants to Fly, Slow and Steady featured on his 2018 album, Move On, and I’m uncertain of the last two, Seeds of Doubt and Set in Stone, perhaps they’re new, or exclusive to this EP. I’m far from all out intending to research their origin, as it’s just to easy to be set adrift on the songs, relishing in the moment.
Morish simplicity, man and guitar composition you’ll crave it never ends, and I can honestly say, I don’t think I’ve hit the replay button with such haste before! Paul is at his dreamiest, fluffiest and virtually subterranean in his deliverance of these masterpieces.
Subjects not so unusual but handled with the proficiency to wow, of lost or found love, picking up with a bongo drumbeat and wailing electric backing guitar at track three, Slow and Steady, with a chorus dripping of anthemic Britpop, of Oasis or Verve in their prime, yet maintaining that spellbinding acoustic goodness.
And for the last two tunes of mysterious origins, are perhaps my favourites, Seeds of Doubt, is a self-analysis theme, mind-bogglingly passionate, and the parable soulful finale, Set in Stone, as is with a live album, there’s a wholesome rawness about it, echoing honesty and scrupulousness throughout, you feel like you’re a guest into a secret meeting, you feel a part of it, and that, is simply, beautiful.
“The only thing disappointing about Kirsty Clinch’s Evolution is, it ends.”
It’s a generation X thing, I’m suggesting, which levels me to downloading an album as the last port of call to actually “owning” something anywhere near physical, against this era of streaming music, sourly missing the fondness of holding a piece of vinyl for all its crackles and jumps. Because owning an album was like a piece of treasure, the cherished keepsake sense you don’t get with streaming, and in review today is exactly the sort of album to be such a cherished keepsake.
Nevertheless, Wiltshire’s adorable country-pop virtuoso, Kirsty Clinch has mastered the art of marketing, and with a drive to succeed, knows precisely through social media, how to gain and keep engaged a modern audience, equally to her exceptional gift as a musician and singer-songwriter. Yes, you could’ve guessed it, her new album Evolution is a masterpiece. The finale of which being aptly a tune called Social Media, which expertly reflects on the image one projects online against the hidden imperfections of reality.
But the ingenuity of marketing is a miniscule element as to why Kirsty manages to reach the fourth position in the iTunes charts in under a few short weeks of releasing her debut album, against the much larger reason that this is the sort of music which doesn’t require pigeonholing, because whatever the angle of your personal taste, you’ll emerge from it thinking; you know what, I like country-pop now.
So, I bite the bullet, stream it on Spotify, like a fledgling, mottled boss, ignoring the invasion of adverts for the sake of hearing an album I’ve held in high anticipation, since she mentioned it to me quite a while ago. If it’s taken time, it’s primarily Kirsty being a perfectionist, and it shows. Nothing here will disappoint or make me doubt the faultlessness of the composition of this album, and in turn, Kirsty’s talent, her picture-perfect balance, in such a way, it’s impossible not to love.
Around and Around’s modest drum makes this song an irresistible introduction, if the astute song writing, complimented by Kirsty’s rich and warming voice, doesn’t, oh but it does. Water’s Running Low continues the quality, confirming you’re in for a beautiful journey, ten tracks strong.
Fit The Shoe, the single we’ve fondly mentioned prior, is hauntingly divine, like William Orbit’s production of Madonna’s Frozen, with a theme of who the cap fits, which is followed by the title track, again, wonderful. Uplifting is the keyword throughout, maintain the balance of sombre yet jubilance. I am Winning, a song of faith in your accomplishments, being a grand example, it drifts over you, as if it’s always been in your life.
Previously there’s always been an obviously and well played out taste of country’s female giants clearly influenced in Kirsty’s songs, of Tammy or Dolly, but here, now, this is wholly Kirsty, it sounds freshly awakened to the junction whereby one day, not far away, reviewers will cite her influence on newer folk artists; that much I’m certain.
Perhaps the memorable, yet not as quirky as the title suggests, No Cornflakes makes me sigh, are we past the halfway mark already? The only thing disappointing about Kirsty Clinch’s Evolution is, it ends.
But not before I Am Me, a rejected romance theme, breaths the most heart-warming narrative of all, with a trialling drumbeat imposing you to realise her style is contemporary, rather than the genre’s archetypal nostalgia. And three more tunes which never faulters the experience, the catchiest of them being Down, and it ends with the aforementioned Social Media.
In this finale you get the confirmation behind the stunning, echoing voice lies honesty in the song writing, from the heart and soul. And that’s it’s worth, in a nutshell, you feel as if you’re getting a little piece of this performer, who is the whole deal, plus one. Self-managed, produced, save the odd tip and mastering from Pete Lamb, marketed, Kirsty even drew the cover illustration. She puts the young students of her newly opened music school before that of promoting this album, she surely shines, and if you heard her previous songs, seen her perform live, you’ll remain convinced this album, is Kirsty indeed evolving into a shooting star you cannot ignore.
If I learned to take heed of Sheer Music chief promoter Kieran J Moore, when he Facebook posts about a new local discovery on a previous occasion, when I had the unexpected realisation outstanding Americana artist, Joe Edwards was virtually a neighbour, it’s paid off again.
The sounds of Daisy Chapman the subject this time, and it’s exquisite.
“How have we only just discovered each other?” Daisy responded. She may reside in Trowbridge but rarely gigs locally, concentrating on touring the continent. I listened fondly to the song he prompted, time for me to cut in on this dance.
Starter for ten, Daisy has an angelic voice of vast range. It could conjure enough emotion to make you tearful over a Chas n Dave cover, if she were to attempt it, which she probably wouldn’t, purely hypothetical!
Orchestral, at times, but dark, folk in another, if unconventional, there’s a thin line between heavenly and infernal here, as a sense of generation X sneaks in too, through conceivably progressive writing. Coupled with poignant narrative in these nine original good luck songs, a waiver away from archetype instruments and riffs of country and folk, and bold genre experimentations and crossovers, makes her third studio album, 2020’s Good Luck Songs something of a masterpiece.
It opens lone on piano, this divine voice, almost liturgical, but layers are building, a trusty cello will become a trademark throughout the album. The title track preps you for something unique, something obviously wonderful.
Into the second tune, Home Fires, and the tender euphoria continues through piano and cello combination, whisking you on its journey, of nostalgic recollections annotating seasonal change, the wordplay is sublime. Neatly layered into the existing recipe, a gothic folk element slips neatly into play by the third tune. Daisy’s voice willingly commands you, captivating you, like a child mesmerised with a campfire fable.
Then there’s Generation Next, a strictly country feel with a delicate fiddle, and brass, accompanying a tongue-in-cheek division, a tale which, despite the Americana sound, nods to gigging on a local circuit, from well-versed experts to the concept their advice is to be ignored by the younger upcoming performers. It is, quite simply, fascinatingly ingenious.
I used to own an Empire is another compellingly written emotional piece; on bonding to face a greater cause, articulated by a crusader boldness against aggrandizement. Through historic references it compares devastating impacts of political cuts, The Beeching Report, Miner’s Strike and even Custer and the Gettysburg Address to the ignorance of Icarus, as the wax of his wings melted from flying too close to the sun. An archetypal subject of leftism maybe, but you’ve never heard such expressed with such academic prose and orientation.
Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do! The subjects of Good Luck Songs are concentrated, factual and tangible, emotionally expressed and divinely produced to an exceptionally high standard. But diversity makes it tricky to pin down, there’s a moment, in the haunting ambient opening of The Decalogue, which sounds so soulful, held steady with military style drum riff, yet the following song There’s a Storm Coming has a drum loop and high-hat, akin to a contemporary RnB song, or the country-pop of Shania Twain. Feels like succumbing to commercialisation, but in this, there’s a point; Daisy’s voice is so lithe, it could flex into any given genre or style, and finish on top.
Said versatility was first noticed by UK prog-rock band Crippled Black Phoenix, and since 2009, on and off Daisy has travelled as pianist/BV with the band on tours covering every corner of Europe as well as a short trip to China. Daisy was also chosen as vocalist on their cover of AC-DC’s “Let Me Put My Love Into You.” With a penchant for prog-rock, Daisy shares lead vocals with ex CBP singer, Daniel Anghede in the group Venus Principle.
And anyway, Good Luck Songs finishes with a sublime cover of Tom Waits’ Tom Traubert’s Blues, to confirm Daisy’s dedication to acoustic rock, but as expectable, it strips out the croaking vocals of Waits and replaces it with the pure silk that is Daisy Chapman. Believe me, if you’re captivated by strong female vocals, the kind that could bring a church down, but want for intelligent lyrics, this album will hold you spellbound from start to finish.
As a nipper I’d spend days, entire school holidays, making mixtapes as if I worked for Now, That’s What I Call Music! In the era before hi-fi, I’d sit holding a microphone to the radio’s speaker, adventurously attempting to anticipate when Tony Blackburn was going to talk over the tune, and just when In the Air Tonight peaked with Phil’s crashing drums, my dad would shout up the stairs that my tea was ready; eternally caught on tape, at least until my Walkman screwed up the cassette.
Crude to look back, even when I advanced to tape-to-tape, I discovered if I pressed the pause button very slowly on the recording cassette deck, it would slide into the next song, and with a second of grinding squeal Howard Jones glided into Yazoo!! Always the DJ, just never with the tech! Rest assured; this doesn’t happen on this, our Various Artists compilation album, 4 Julia’s House. And oh, have I got some news about that?!
Huh? Yes, I have, and here it is….
We did it! Thanks once again to all our fabulous contributing artists, our third instalment of detailed sleeve notes will follow shortly, but for now, I couldn’t wait another day, therefore, I’ve released it half a day early, this afternoon!
Now all that needs to happen is to get promoting it, and you can help by sharing news of this on your social media pages, thank you. Bloggers and media please get in touch, and help me raise some funds for Julia’s House.
I’ve embedded a player, in which you should be able to get a full try before you buy, I believe you get three listens before it’ll default and tell you to buy it. I hope you enjoy, it has been a mission and half, but one I’d gladly do again.
Please note: there are many artists giving it, “oh no, I was going to send you a track!” Fear not, there is still time, as I’ll causally start collecting tunes for a volume 2, and when the time is ready and we have enough songs, we will do it. It might be for another charity, I’d personally like to do another raising funds for The Devizes & District Opportunity Centre, but that’s unconfirmed as of yet.
You know, sometimes I think I could raise more money with less effort by trekking down through the Market Place in a bath of cold baked beans, but I wanted to bring you a treasured item comprising of so many great artists we’ve featured, or will be featuring in the near future on Devizine. Never before has all these artists been on one huge album like this, and look, even if you don’t care for a particular tune, there’s 46 of them, check my maths as I pride myself on being exceptionally rubbish at it, but I make that 22p a track, and all for such a worthy cause!
“We are so grateful to Devizine and all of the local artists who are taking part in the charity album to raise funds for Julia’s House. We don’t receive any government funding for the care we give to families in Wiltshire, so the support we receive from our local community is so important.”
Claudia Hickin, Community Fundraiser at Julia’s House
Here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, I hope! The track listing and details of all our wonderful songs presented on our forthcoming album, Various Artists 4 Julia’s House. Read on in awe….
3. Erin Bardwell – (Like the Reflection on) The Liffey view
4. Timid Deer – The Shallows
5. Duck n Cuvver – Henge of Stone
6. Strange Folk – Glitter
7. Strange Tales – Entropy
8. Paul Lappin – Broken Record
9. Billy Green 3 – I Should be Moved
10. Jon Veale – Flick the Switch
11. Wilding – Falling Dream
12. Barrelhouse – Mainline Voodoo
13. Richard Davis & The Dissidents – Higher Station
14. Tom Harris – Ebb & Flow
15. Will Lawton – Evanescence
16. Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective – Dreams Can Come True
17. Kirsty Clinch – Stay With Us
18. Richard Wileman – Pilot
19. Nigel G. Lowndes – Who?
20. Kier Cronin – Crying
21. Sam Bishop – Wild Heart (Live Acoustic)
22. Mr Love & Justice – The Other Side of Here
23. Barmy Park – Oakfield Road
24. The Truzzy Boys – Summer Time
25. Daydream Runaways – Light the Spark
26. Talk in Code – Talk Like That
27. Longcoats – Pretty in Pink
28. Atari Pilot – When We Were Children
29. Andy J Williams – Post Nup
30. The Dirty Smooth – Seed to the Spark
31. SexJazz – Metallic Blue
32. Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue – Hammer Down
33. The Boot Hill All Stars – Monkey in the Hold
34. Mr Tea & The Minions – Mutiny
35. Cosmic Shuffling – Night in Palermo
36. Boom Boom Bang Bang – Blondie & Ska
37. The Birth of Bonoyster – The Way I Like to Be
38. The Oyster – No Love No Law
39. The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show – Ghosts
40. Julie Meikle and Mel Reeves – This Time
41. Cutsmith – Osorio
42. The Tremor Tones – Don’t Darken my Door
43. Big Ship Alliance – All in this Thing Together
44. Neonian – Bubblejet
45. First Born Losers – Ground Loop
I’ll tell you what though, kids. This has been a lot more work than I originally anticipated! Yeah, I figured, just collect some tunes, let the artists do all the hard work and take the credit! But no, mate, wasn’t like that at all. The most important part for me, is ensuring the artists are properly thanked, so, just like those Now, That’s What I Call Music albums, I wanted to write up a full track listing with sleeve notes and links. Please support the artists you like on the album by checking them out, following and liking on social media and buying their music.
But to list all 45 tunes in one article will blow the attention span of the most avid reader, and if, like me, you’ve the attention span of a goldfish, find below the first twenty, and then the next 25 will follow as soon as my writer’s cramp ceases! Just putting them onto the bag was tedious enough, but worth the effort.
To all the artists below, message me if links are incorrect or broken, or if there’s any changes to the details you’d like me to edit, thanks, you blooming superstars.
1- Pete Lamb & Cliff Hall – Julie
Not so much that Julie is similar to Julia, there could be no song more apt to start the album. Something of a local musical legend is Pete Lamb, owner of The Music Workshop, producing and recording local, national and international artists. His career in music stretches back to the sixties, creating such groups as The Colette Cassin Quintet and Pete Lamb’s Heartbeats. Yet it is also his aid to local music which makes him a prominent figure, Kieran J Moore tells how Pete lent him equipment for the first Sheer Music gigs.
A wonderful rock n roll ballad with a poignant backstory, Julie was written in remembrance of Pete’s daughter who passed away in 2004 to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It was featured on an album for the charity Hope for Tomorrow. The song also features Cliff Hall, keyboardist with the Shadows for many years, playing piano and strings.
2 – The King Dukes – Dying Man
Formed in Bristol in April 2019, a merger of a variety of local bands, including Crippled Black Phoenix, Screamin’ Miss Jackson and the John E. Vistic Experience, The King Dukes combine said talent and experience to create a unique, authentic sound, dipped in a heritage reuniting contemporary slices of British RnB with a dollop of Memphis soul.
Dying Man is a prime example, taken from the album Numb Tongues which we fondly reviewed back in the October of 2019. The brilliance of which hasn’t waned for me yet, and isn’t likely to.
3- Erin Bardwell – (Like the Reflection on) The Liffey
One cannot chat about reggae in Swindon without Erin’s name popping up. Keyboardist in the former ska-revival band, The Skanxters during the nineties, Erin now operates under various guises; the rock steady outfit Erin Bardwell Collective chiefly, experimental dub project Subject A with Dean Sartain, and The Man on the Bridge with ex-Hotknives Dave Clifton, to name but a few.
(Like the Reflection on) The Liffey is an eloquently emotive tune, staunch to the ethos of reggae, yet profoundly unique to appeal further. It is taken from the album Interval, one of two solo ventures for Erin during lockdown.
4 – Timid Deer – The Shallows
My new favourite thing, after noting Timid Deer supported the Lost Trades debut gig at Trowbridge’s Pump. Though self-labelled indie, I was surprised how electronica they are, with a nod to the ninety’s downtempo scene of bands like Morcheeba and Portishead, hold the trip hop element. This Salisbury five-piece consisting of vocalist Naomi Henstridge, keyboardist Tim Milne, Tom Laws on double bass, guitarist Matt Jackson and drummers Chris and Jason Allen have created such an uplifting euphoric sound, hairs stand tall on the back of your neck.
Taken from the 2019 album Melodies for the Nocturnal Pt. 1, I’m so pleased to present this.
5- Duck n Cuvver – Henge of Stone
Yes, enthralled to have the song frontman Robert Hardie of Duck n Cuvver refers to as “his baby.” This is Salisbury Celtic roots rock band so aching to film part of their video for Henge of Stone inside Stonehenge, they’ve campaigned for the funds to do it, ending with Rab breaking into the monument to promote the campaign!
With references to the importance of solstice and the pilgrimage to Stonehenge, what other song could be so locally linked?
6 – Strange Folk – Glitter
A dark west country folk band in the realm of a beatnik time of yore, with a serious slice of gothic too, Strange Folk came to my attention playing the Vinyl Realm stage at the Devizes Street Festival. Hailing from Hertfordshire, band members also now reside in Somerset, Strange Folk is comprised of four songwriters; vocalist Annalise Spurr, guitarist David Setterfield, Ian Prangnell on bass and backing vocals, and drummer Steve Birkett. Glitter features cello by Helen Robertson, and is a name-your-price gift to fans during lockdown, a wonderful teaser which if you like, and I can’t see why you wouldn’t, you should try the 2014 mini-album Hollow, part one.
7 – Strange Tales – Entropy
With singer Sally Dobson on the Wiltshire acoustic circuit and the synth/drum programming of Paul Sloots, who resides in West Sussex, catching this duo, Strange Tales live would be a rare opportunity not to be missed. Though their brilliance in melodic, bass and synth-driven goth-punk is captured in the 2018 album Unknown to Science, in which our track Entropy is taken.
Their songs relate baroque cautionary tales drawn from the murkier corners of the human psyche, while retaining a pop sensibility and stripped-down, punk-rock approach. Fans of the darker side of eighties electronica, of Joy Division and Depeche Mode will love this. You can buy this album at Vinyl Realm in Devizes.
8- Paul Lappin – Broken Record
Imagine George Harrison present on the Britpop scene, and you’re somewhere lost in Lappin’s world. Paul hails from Swindon originally, but resides mostly in the Occitanie region of the south of France, where he wrote and recorded the mind-blowingly brilliant album The Boy Who Wants to Fly, released in October 2020. Our chosen track, Broken Record was a single just prior, in August, and features Lee Alder – bass guitar, electric guitar, Robert Brian – drums, Jon Buckett – Hammond organ, electric guitar, Paul Lappin – vocals, synths, Lee Moulding – percussion, Harki Popli – table.
Now Devizes-based, Bill Green was a genuine Geordie Britpop article, co-creating the local band Still during those heady nineties. Today his band on the circuit, Billy Green 3 consists also of Harvey Schorah and Neil Hopkins, who’s talents can be witnessed in the awesome album this track comes from, also titled Still. Mastered and produced by Martin Spencer and Matt Clements at Potterne’s Badger Set studio in 2020, it’s wonderfully captures the remnants of the eighties scooter scene in reflected in Britpop.
I’m sure you can buy the album at Vinyl Realm, Devizes; I would if I were you.
10- Jon Veale – Flick the Switch
Marlborough guitar tutor, singer-songwriter and bassist of local covers band Humdinger, Jon Veale’s single, Flick the Switch, also illuminated Potterne’s Badger Set studio in August of 2020, and it immediately hits you square in the chops, despite the drums were recorded prior to lockdown, by legend Woody from Bastille, and Jon waited tolerantly for the first lockdown to end before getting Paul Stagg into Martin Spencer’s studio to record the vocals. Glad to have featured it then, even more pleased Jon contributed it to this album.
11- Wilding – Falling Dream
What can be said which hasn’t about Avebury’s exceptionally talented singer-songwriter George Wilding? A true legend in the making. Now residing in Bristol, George has the backing of some superb musicians to create the force to be reckoned with, Wilding. Perry Sangha assists with writing, as well electric guitar, loads more electric guitars, acoustic guitar, organ and weird synth things. Bassist James Barlow also handles backing vocals and cous cous. Daniel Roe is on drums.
The debut EP, Soul Sucker knocked me for six back in November 2018, as did this here latest single recorded at the elusive Dangerous Dave’s Den, mixed and mastered by Dan Roe, during October last year.
12 – Barrelhouse – Mainline Voodoo
One good thing about preparing this album is to hear bands I’ve seen the names of, kicking around, and added to our event guide many times over, but I’ve never had the opportunity to see at a gig. Marlborough-based Barrelhouse is one, and after hearing Mainline Voodoo, I’m intending to make a beeline to a gig. Favourites over at their local festival, MantonFest, headlined Marlborough’s 2019 Christmas Lights Switch-On, and right up my street!
Formed in early 2014, Barrelhouse offer vintage blues and rock classics, heavily influenced by the golden age of Chicago Blues and the early pioneers of the British blues scene, staying true to the essence that made these tunes great and adding their own style of hard-edge groove. Overjoyed to feature Mainline Voodoo, title track from their 2020 album, which broke into the UK’s national Blues Top 40.
13 – Richard Davis & The Dissidents – Higher Station (R. Davies)
Absolutely bowled over, I am, to have Swindon’s road-driving rock band with a hint of punk, Richard Davis & The Dissidents send is this exclusive outtake from the Human Traffic album, out now on Bucketfull of Brains. We reviewed it back in December. Recorded at Mooncalf Studios. Produced by Richard Davies, Nick Beere and Tim Emery. If the outtake is this amazing, imagine the album!
14 – Tom Harris – Ebb & Flow
Lockdown may’ve delayed new material from Devizes-based progressive-metal five-piece Kinasis, but frontman Tom Harris has sent us something solo, and entirely different. Ebb & Flow is an exclusive track made for this album, a delicate and beautiful strings journey; enjoy.
15 – Will Lawton & The Alchemists – Evanescence
Wiltshire singer-songwriter, pianist and music therapist Will Lawton, here with his group The Alchemists. A weave of many progressive influences from jazz to folk, Will recently surprised me by telling me drum n bass is among them too. The latest album ‘Salt of the Earth, Vol. 1 (Lockdown)’, is a collection of original poems embedded in meditative piano and ambient soundscapes. But we’ve taken this spellbinding tune from the previous release, Abbey House Session.
16- Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective – Dreams Can Come True
Hailing from Essex but prevalent on our local live music circuit, with some amazing performances at Devizes’ Southgate, Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective offer us this uplifting country-rock/roots anthem, which, after one listen, will see you singing the chorus, guaranteed. It is the finale to their superb 2020 album, Do What you Love.
17 – Kirsty Clinch – Stay With Us
If we’ve been massively impressed with Wiltshire’s country sensation, Kirsty Clinch’s new country-pop singles Fit the Shoe, Around and Around, and most recently, Waters Running Low and anticipating her forthcoming album, it’s when we get the golden opportunity to catch her live which is really heart-warming. This older track, recorded at Pete Lamb’s Music Workshop, exemplifies everything amazing about her acoustic live performances, her voice just melts my soul every listen.
18- Richard Wileman – Pilot
Incredibly prolific, Swindon’s composer Richard Wileman is known for his pre-symphonic rock band Karda Estra. Idols of the Flesh is his latest offering from a discography of sixteen albums, which we reviewed. Along a similar, blissful ethos Richard Wileman served up Arcana in September this year, where this track is taken from. While maintaining a certain ambiance, his own named productions are more conventional than Karda Estra, more attributed to the standard model of popular music, yet with experimental divine folk and prog-rock, think Mike Oldfield, and you’re part-way there.
19 – Nigel G. Lowndes – Who?
Bristol’s Nigel G Lowndes is a one-man variety show. Vaudeville at times, tongue-in-cheek loungeroom art-punk meets country folk; think if Talking Heads met Johnny Cash. Who? is the unreleased 11th track from his album Hello Mystery, we reviewed in March, and we’re glad to present it here.
20 – Kier Cronin – Crying
Unsolicited this one was sent, and I love it for its rockabilly reel although a Google search defines this Swindon based singer songwriter as indie/alternative. Obsessed with the music and the joy of writing, Kier told me, “I once had a dream Bruce Springsteen told me to give it up… So, this one’s for you Bruce!” Crying was released as a single in March, also check out his EP of last year called One.
If you’re missing a tubthumping club night, you could clear your laminate flooring of breakables, blag your kid’s colour-changing lightbulb, overcharge yourself for a Bacardi Breezer from your own fridge, and belch up kebab behind your sofa.
All these things are optional to simulate the full lockdown nightclub in your own home. But, even creating a cardboard cut-out queue for the downstairs bog, or hiring a doggie tuxedo so your pet can double-up as the bouncer, extreme measures in extreme times will doubtfully replicate the genuine clubbing experience; sad but true.
However, if props don’t make the neon grade, the music can. Swindon-based tri-county sound system, Mid Life Krisis, abbreviated to MiLK, announce an online schedule for live DJ feeds and multi-genre events. “We will be putting on events post Covid for the people of Swindon and beyond,” they say.
There’s an interesting line-up ahead, prompted to me by Pewsey acoustic performer Cutsmith, who is on this Sunday (28th Feb.) Yet most are hard floor, afro/tribal house, trance, techno and drum n bass DJ sessions, freely shared onto a Facebook group, here. Join the group, throw your hands in the air, scream oh yeah, just don’t set your own roof on fire, it’s only going to increase your insurance direct debits, mo-fo.
Your exhaust cannot drop off en-route, girlfriend needs not to spend umpteen hours sorting her hair, and there’s no over-vocal knob jockey giving you all that in the carpark to distract you. No excuse for unattendance; no dress-code either, get funky in your jimmy-jams, if you like, you know I will. Shit, I’m like the Arthur Dent of Mixmag!
Now, I’m also gonna start adding these posters to our event calendar, which despite being about as tech-savvy as Captain Caveman, I’ve taken the time when nought is really happening to redesign it, to be more user-friendly.
All needs doing is directing buggers to the thing, as we’re listing global online and streamed events, and until a time when Bojo the Clown finally stops mugging us off and announces a release date, it’s not worth adding real live events for me to have to go delete them again.
That said, I find difficulties in keeping up to scratch with what’s on in the online sense, partly because I’m fucking lazy, but mostly because they pop up sporadically and unexpectedly.
Else they’re mainstream acts begging via a price-tagged ticket. I can appreciate this, it’s a rock and hard place, and we all need to get some pocket money, but from a punter’s POV, charging to watch their own laptop screen in hope they get a good speed for their feed, can be asking a bit much and one now favours a PayPal tip jar system.
Such is the nature of the beast, where a performer or DJ could be slumped in front of Netflix one minute and suddenly decide they fancy going live. Thankful then, we should be, to these Facebook groups hosting streams, in order to create some kind of structure.
The positive, for what it’s worth, is boundaries have been ripped down. Without travel issues, online, your performance has the potential to reach a global audience, and hopefully attract newbies to your released material. Who knows, pre-lockdown you played to a handful of buddies at your local watering hole, but afterwards tribes from Timbuctoo might rock up at your show. Okay, I’ll give you, they might not, but potentially, the world is your oyster. Just a shame its shell is clamped shut.
Music technology bears a burden on the acoustic singer-songwriter, hopefully awaiting a practical gap in the market to sneak into the mainstream. Locked in the adolescent tantrum of the drum machine, pop charts of the late eighties were awash with electronica, hip hop, and the dawn of house, either this, or jean commercials revitalised sixties soul classics. Then, along came a short dreadlocked female singer, clasping her guitar.
Had Tracey Chapman arrived a decade earlier when Joan Armatrading was prevalent, the impact might not have had the same clout. As it was her appearance was exhilarating, a breath of fresh air, but seems sometimes acoustic artists are to pop charts as Christopher Lambert is to Highlander, there can be only one.
In 1998 David Gray’s self-released studio album, White Ladder looked as if it would be no more successful than his previous three. While renowned on the folk scene, Gray didn’t break the mainstream until its ATO re-issue in 2000. Perhaps we could speculate the charts of 98 was held hostage by Britpop, else the reign of rave was at its apex. People looked for something fresh for the millennium, and Gray’s folktronica found that gap.
Folktronica is a strapline, rather than subgenre. A causal grouping for fusing string instruments into electronic music, born at a time of public acceptance in hip hop. It was courageous, but a natural progression, and Gray was atop of the game, appearing in David Kane’s rom-com This Year’s Love, which he based a song around its title.
Like an Andy Warhol prediction, the sequel to White Ladder, A New Day at Midnight, failed to obtain the same critical acclaim, despite charting at the top, and whipping Pop Idol runner-up Gareth Gates’s debut album, which is enough for me! Exhaustion in the spotlight saw David Gray rest, and gradually fall into cult status, returning to the folk circuit.
At the millennium I was neither here nor there about David Gray. Yeah, I liked his charted songs, but entangled in denying rave had perished I sought heavier trip hop, or else a model folk formula; the two were strictly separate entities. It wasn’t until a near decade ago, reviewing a self-published book which suggested White Ladder was a revelation of pious significance, that I gave second thought to David Gray, and just how good the album was. Mind you, the flimsy autobiographical plot continued onto how, under hypnosis, the author turned out to be an incarnation of Cleopatra, so it all had to be taken with a pinch!
This is the culprit, the reason I’ve been knocked for six by his new album, Skellig, released tomorrow (19th Feb 2021.) Naturally I expected it to be pretty awesome, but hadn’t fathomed how awesome. Astounded, on continuous play and taking me on a journey for the best part of this week, I confirm its ambient, acoustic gorgeousness.
If last year’s twentieth anniversary of White Ladder saw a deluxe edition launched, but a subsequent tour cancelled due to the pandemic, Skellig counteracts; it is simply perfection for isolation, though written prior. The elements of folktronica are even more subtle than previously, with just a hint they set the scene, welcoming a sparser, shared soundscape with the atmospheric songs focussing around six-part vocals with Gray trading his signature gravel for a softer tone; mega-bliss. Though, a sense of shingle develops vocally as the album reaches a conclusion, not at Dylan level, but adjacent.
Skellig takes its name from a formation of precipitous rocky islands off the coast of Co. Kerry, the most westerly point in Ireland. Ravaged by the Atlantic, the seemingly un-inhabitable location of Skellig Michael became an unlikely site of pilgrimage in 600AD for a group of monks, who believed leading such a merciful existence, they would leave the distraction of the human realm to be ultimately closer to God.
Gray asks for no literal translation of the above, nor prescribes any religious allegiance; the story, told to him by a friend, has haunted his imagination ever since: “The more I contemplated the idea of a small group of people landing on those rocks and establishing a monastic life there, the more overpowered I became by a dizzying sense of awe. How close to God could you possibly wish to get? Life must have been unbelievably hard for them and trying to fathom the deep spiritual conviction that compelled them to escape the mediaeval world led me to acknowledge my own deepest longings to be free of all the endless human noise that we now so readily accept as being such an inescapable part of our day to day lives. Dreams of revelation, dreams of a cleansing purity, dreams of escape. Ideas that I think almost any 21st century person shouldn’t find it too hard to relate to!”
A notion which saw Gray gather his team and venture to the Scottish Highlands to live out the creation of the record. In the significant of this backstory, Skellig paints a picture with sound akin to Gogh’s Starry Starry Night. You can sense the sea crashing into the rocks of a barren Irish landmass, hear the haunting echo through the draughty halls of a desolate monastery, through multi-layered vocals, delicate Celtic guitar picks and morose piano solos.
Written astutely and with maturity in comparison to White Ladder, subjects twist dejection into uplifting awe. Carried by a singular baritone guitar, the opening title track bobs on an ocean like a chantey, familiarising you with how it’s going to go down. From there on it free-flows thirteen tracks of blissful enchantment. While listening I noted the songs seemed short, but in checking most weigh over the four-minute mark, proof how engrossing Skellig is. Lost in its splendour it comes to a masterful finale with the graceful, All That We Asked For And More; which sums up the album perfectly. A ten from me!
Catching up with more stuff on a quiet(ish) Sunday, this got pushed towards the bottom, I’ve no valid excuses. Taking you back to April 2017, Brighton’s misfit leftist comic poet-acoustic performer performed at Trowbridge’s Town Hall for Sheer Music. It would be a gig on his last ever tour. After twenty years Chris announced he was giving up his music career, and finalised it with an autumn farewell concert in London.
Since 2014 the registered charity MVT, was setup to protect the UK live music network by focussing its support on grassroots venues, but since lockdown it’s understandably become essential. Grassroots venues play a crucial role, nurturing local talent, providing a platform for artists to build their careers and develop their music and their performance skills. We need them back; we need them open. Hearing this album helps you to understand why, makes you remember what you’re missing.
It’s easy to hear the influence of upcoming artists like Gecko, as Chris weaves unrelated subjects like an observational stand-up comedian, and also, with the same comical timing. His guitar picking is quality and together it makes for a highly entertaining show. Stabs at the establishment come thick and fast, songs randomly seriatim through motorways, anti-hunt rants, gorilla gardening, his own self-worth and musical talent, even a jab at Trowbridge’s political demographic in Love me, I’m Liberal. There’s a beautifully played out winter portrayal, Tunguska, and more intelligently drafted thoughts to boot.
This is folk upfront, with woven narrative and amusing rudiments, chronicles the now, and highlights the passion of the simplest gig, man with thoughts and guitar.
On the night he was supported by Phil Cooper, and Kyle D Evans, the show recorded by Bromham’s Owl’s soundman Gareth Nicholas. Makes me wish I was bobbing about on the scene at the time, but Devizine was a year behind in the making. Still, albums got a picture of Trowbridge on it, any monies you can give helps a charity, but most of all, this is just the enjoyable and proficient performance we’ve come to expect from Sheer.
With over three decades experience writing music and composing songs, Melksham-based Chris Tweedie acknowledges on his website he can sing, but disparages his ability to limitations, inquiring of other singers for possible collaborations. While timorousness is common when self-assessing the worth of your own output, especially for musicians, there’s an argument that no one can express your own words better than you. While the many who’ve taken on songs of Dylan, who let’s face it, isn’t the most accomplished vocalist, may well have manufactured a better sound, but lack the sincerity and emotion of the written word coming from its author.
First impressions last, I’m only a few songs into Reflections, his debut album released yesterday, (6th Nov) and I’m drifting into its gorgeous portrayals, meditative and knowing his notion is modesty. The vocals are apt for this wandering, sublimely ambient twelve uniformed tunes. And anyway, Tracy Whatley’s beautifully grafted vocals with a country twinge feature on the one tune, Virtuous Circle, and the title tune is an instrumental finale to make Mike Oldfield blush. The rest are self-penned and executed with vocals, mellowly with acoustic goodness, reminding me of the posthumous Nick Drake.
With poetic thoughtful prose, these are exceptionally well-written songs, performed with passion and produced under the ever-proficient Martin Spencer at the Badger Set Studio. His website and the CD inlay has text of said lyrics, to pick one entirely at random; “You are the thousand winds that blow, You are the diamond glints on snow, You are sunlight on ripened grain, You are the gentle autumn rain,” taken from You are the Stars, are not the exception, they’re all this serenely stunning.
It’s Sunday sunrise music, sitting by a stretch of water, and we all need this once in a while. The album cover of such a scene sums it up in one image.
The relaxed attitude hardly drifts to anything of a negative narrative, perhaps with the exception of Slow Down, which suggests one’s life is moving too fast. The majority on offer is uplifting, perhaps reaching the apex at the seventh song, aforementioned You are the Stars, which is enriching, period.
“There are various musical influences that come through in my music,” Chris says, citing rock, pop, country and folk. “The direction this mix has taken my songs is still fairly mainstream with a leaning towards the West Coast path and an element of Americana in places.” I certainly agree, there’s hints of the Byrds, of Crosby, Stills and Nash, but majorly its definingly English, think George Harrison, not to hype but to compare the style of. There’s experimentation at work here, but the experience shines through, Chris Tweedie could chill out Donald Duck!
A cracker of a single from Swindon’s Paul Lappin this week, a Britpop echoing of Norwegian Wood, perhaps, but tougher than that which belongs on Rubber Soul. Broken Record is an immediate like, especially the way it opens as crackling vinyl and the finale repeats the final line into a fade, as if it was indeed, a broken record.
Shrewdly written, the venerable subject of a passionate breakup metaphors the title, “ignore the voice of reason, leave the key and close the door, do you think you’re ready, to become unsteady, like a broken record, you have heard it all before.” Paul does this frankly, with appetite and it plays out as a darn good, timeless track.
It’s head-spinning rock, intelligent indie. Harki Popli on tabla drum and Jon Buckett’s subtle Hammond organ most certainly attributes to my imaginings of a late-Beatles vibe. Yet if this is a tried and tested formula, as I believe I’ve said before about Paul’s music, he does it with bells on.
From Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil at the crossroads to bipolar bank robber George “Babyface” Nelson, there’s so many Americana mythologies and folklore veracities apropos in the Cohen Brother’s “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” I could draft a lengthy essay. One I’m reminded of last Sunday down our trusty Southgate, was the scene depicting the Carter Family singing “Keep on the Sunny Side” at a governor’s election rally. Reason; there’s something simplistically bluegrass about The Lost Trades, matchless vocal harmonies, ensuring the circle is unbroken, even in a distant Wiltshire.
It was only a whistle-stop to wet my whistle, and when I did arrive the trio I’d came for where on their break. Tamsin was selling handcrafted spoons and lesser original band merchandise such as t-shirts and CDs, Phil was lapping the pub chatting enthusiastically and Jamie was having a pint with his family. None of this really matters, as individuals, we’ve rightfully nothing but praised these marvellous local musicians. When they formed a more official grouping and the Lost Trades were born, we broke the news. Neither did it matter, at the time, that I would be unable to attend their debut gig at the Village Pump. I had my new writer Helen offer to take my place, and what is more, I knew I’d be catching up with The Lost Trades in due course; couldn’t have predicted the impending lockdown the following week.
Yet prior to Sunday I had ponder if there was anything else to write about these individuals we’ve not covered in the past, but I was wrong. The angle can only be the difference between them as individuals or periodically helping one another out at a gig, to the trio The Lost Trades. Because, when they did everything was very much adlib, with the Lost Trades three minds are working closer than ever before, and if two brains are better than one, three is not, in this case, a crowd.
It wasn’t long before they resettled, and huddled in the doorway of the skittle room playing to the crowd in the garden, as is the current arrangement for these brief acoustic sessions at the Gate. They joyfully toiled with a cover of Talking Heads’ “Road to Nowhere.” This was followed by my favourite track from Tamsin’s album Gypsy Blood, aptly, “Home.” Topped off with a sublime version of Cat Stevens’ “Moon Shadow.” But I did say it was a whistle stop.
In consolation I picked up their self-titled debut EP, something I should have done months ago. With this beauty in hand I could take a little of The Lost Trades home with me; it’ll play perpetually through those thoughtful moments. Recorded in session at The Village Pump, “because we really like the acoustics in there,” explained Tamsin, here is a recording oozing with a quality which, despite predicting, still blew me for six. As I say, it’s the combination of these three fantastic artists in their own right, as opposed the jamming we’ve previously become accustomed to, which really makes the difference.
Five tunes strong, this EP equally celebrates these three talents and harmonises them on a level we’ve not heard before. The acapella beginning of the opening tune, “Hummingbird” glides into stripped back xylophone and acoustic guitar, and is so incredibly saccharine, it trickles like some beatniks performing on a seventies Children’s TV show. Yet, it works. In true Simon & Garfunkel manner, it’s not mawkish, just nice.
Hummingbird serves as a great introduction, but is by no means the template. As is commonplace, from the Beatles to The Wailers, The Trades, I detect, conjoin the writing effort but the lead singer seems to be the one who plucked the idea. “Good Old Days,” then, screams Jamie at me, who leads. It has his stamp, ingenious narrative centred around thoughtful prose. “Wherever You Are,” likewise is a Tamsin classic, wildly romantic and wayfarer.
“Robots,” follows, the quirkiest and perhaps erroneous after an initial listen. Yet through subtle metaphors the satirical slant charms in a manner which nods Phil Cooper, and why should one stick to a formula in subject matter? Because the sound is authentically Americana of yore, Robots superbly deflects the notion it’s lost in a bygone era and cannot use modern concepts, and Robots ruling the world is, however much a metaphor, still fundamentally sci-fi, and that makes for an interesting contrast. With that thought in mind, this could be the track which stands out for originality.
As in this review, we’ve returned to the unbroken circle. In full circle the final song, “Wait for my Boat,” is a sublimely cool track, casting a direction the trio are clearly heading. For although Jamie leads, there’s elements of all three middle tracks combined in this sea shanty sounding song. It’s metaphorical, romantic, with sentimental narrative. It wraps up the EP perfectly, leaving you hanging for the album they’re working on.
Yes, the Lost Trades is a live group you need to see in person, but this EP really is way beyond my already high expectations. It’s combination of talents is honest, bluegrass-inspired acoustic gorgeousness you need in your life.
You know you’re stockpiling years when you decide staying in for your birthday is the choicest option. I did, finally, haul my birthday-cake belly off the sofa on Sunday, driven by lingering desire, or an essence of ritual, which put up a fierce battle against my indolence; I’m glad it won.
Though the anticipated birthday banter and celebratory sacraments were scarce, as the White Bear was held captive by an extraordinarily acute and enthralling sound. An artist I thought Andy had reviewed for a past Sunday session here at this snug tavern, but searching came up with no reference to it, Phil Dewhurst, known as Jinder was mysterious to me as either. Yet he weaves intricate and personal storytelling as an introduction to each song, so you leave feeling you know a little about the musician.
If it’s a Springsteen-esque cliché, Phil summarises well, each song illustrated with an explanation to his thoughts and inspiration while writing it. No matter if it’s fashioned with poetic riddle, once you’ve a background to it stimulus you comprehend. And his writing is well crafted, eloquent and precise.
While the songs were melodic and mellowing, few with a melancholic theme, Phil conducts his prose against the cynical, and his songs breath an air of positivity over pessimism. There was a running leitmotif of keeping on the sunny side of the street against all odds, and for such, I compare him again to Springsteen, for his wild romantic style. Never was the subject quixotic, pragmatism showed his true colours as he poured his emotion fluently into his songs, attached to acoustic guitar so you couldn’t see the join, through proficient use of the loop peddle he created a beautiful soundscape, like a one-man Pink Floyd.
And it was when to come back with the following verse which really impressed me, Jinder has professionalism in his timing and a natural flare, making this afternoon a notable and entertaining affair.
See, I observe the loop pedal operation with a certain fascination, particularly under the command of the multi-instrumentalist, previous referencing Chris James Marr from a Sheer gig, or when the Arts Festival introduced Devizes to She Robot last summer, but it never ceases to amaze me when a man like Jinder can weave such intense resonances with just an acoustic guitar. The instrumental sections penetrated the mind and drifted from person to person; he clearly knows what he’s doing there, wincing an electric guitar sound or bashing a beat on the side of it.
Big “but” here though, it was the crux when he let off the pedal, the songs of simplicity; man, and guitar, ah, the acoustic really showed his true expertise. I’d recommend and welcome a Phil Jinder Dewhurst gig to all mature aficionados of rock. And marvellously prolific is he, a West Country based international touring musician, Jinder has released ten critically acclaimed albums for five different labels, including Sony BMG and Universal, had top 40 singles with ‘Overthinkers Anonymous’ and ‘Keep Me In Your Heart’, the latter of which has been successfully covered by many other artists and features in 2019’s international smash hit movie ‘Fishermen’s Friends’.
Through the delicacy of lo-fi folk-noir to the crank but pleasing blues tune he charmed the humble audience with personal anecdotes of woe, or uplifting inspirational moments, he expressed his passion for his art, that of friends in collaboration, and he pitched his landmark album The Silver Age with accounts of its orchestration. I’d like to hear that, yet as solo he has a force of his own, and was the perfect finale to a weekend.
If all products are carefully marketed towards a specific target audience, none I feel, are as precise as boxes of chocolates. The whole idea of taking an everyday item, the sort you might shout to your driver as he approaches the garage, “and get us a Twix,” when stuck in a box suddenly becomes a rare treat, gifted by an acquaintance for a special occasion. It’s vital you pick the correct box to suit the message; while a Dairy Box says “happy birthday, Gran,” Milk Tray says “get your kit off love!”
Connotations all in the packaging and advertising, push comes to shove, they’re the same bloody thing, but last thing you want is to hand your gran some Milk Tray. Often, it’s fallacious, a Flake is the most unsuitable chocolate bar to eat in the tub, no matter what the telly might tell you. That’s why you have to hand it to the Cadbury’s Roses ad campaign, for while it’s not the best box of chocolates, it is somewhere in the top five. But it’s the across-the-board implications; anyone can buy a box for anyone, for any reason; it’s choco impartial. Buy Roses if you don’t want the receiver to assume you see them like your grandparent, or you want to snog their face off until sore. “It’s just to say thank you;” yeah, yeah, clever bastards.
New single out from Jamie R Hawkins then, unless you’d rather me waffle about chocolate? It’s like Roses though, it’s a universal thank you, for friendship, and while it may not the best Jamie R Hawkins song, it just rocked up somewhere in the top five. Though Jamie has pre-set his bar high, and if his May single, Welcome to the Family was quirkily agreeable, Thank You, Friend harks back to the classic sentiments we love Mr Hawkins for. Diluted, this song is more general and will infectiously touch all who hear it, as concentrate it profoundly assesses what a friend is, and how they’re capable of helping, in a manner The Beatles only skimmed the surface of.
Another perfect production for Phil Cooper; Jamie is on top form. “I never fail to be amazed,” he sings, “That what defeats me leaves you totally unfazed, it’s almost like I’m lacking in, the thing that makes you so alive, and it’s so good to know you’re always on my side.” Just one of the beautifully rendered verses of this fantastic song which undoubtedly showcases Jamie’s brilliance of song-writing, and with conviction he chants his own words of a song dedicated to his brother with unequalled passion.
It made me think of a time he was supporting a gig at the Cons Club; I drove out of the carpark to see him perched on the wall. Offered him a lift, he was only heading for the British, but jumped in. A handshake would’ve sufficed, but Jamie gave us a man-hug; one of the marvellous reasons why I love writing Devizine, I’ll locally praise what needs to be praised, slag off what needs to be slagged, but it’s also clear most recipients don’t view me as “the evil press,” but as a friend. And it’d be virtually impossible, I’d wager, to deliberately make yourself an enemy of Jamie, unless you’re the jealous sort of song-writer, struggling to compose a song a quarter as good as this one.
He’s here, he’s there, he’s at the White Bear this Sunday afternoon, catch him when you can, it never gets tiresome despite the fact Jamie does our circuit regularly, like a J S Lowry painting, the songs he weaves always have something different you may not have picked up on before, and his new ones, well, get better and better. This new track is available today through all the music sites. iTunes is too Thornton’s for me, spotty-thigh or whatchamacallit is too, well, Haribo; here’s the Bandcamp link, it’s this old timer’s Dairy Box!
There are two sides to every story. We’ve heard Dolly’s angle since 1973, imagine if Jolene had her say. Traditionally, like gallant fables, songs seldom back the underdog, the aberrant. Particularly the rounded narrative of folk or country, usually tales culturally able to be retold, optimistically.
If the last local singer-songwriter you’d expect to be exploring darker tenets is Tamsin Quin, think again. Akin to Springsteen’s Nebraska, in so much it summons no such communal feeling, rather Scandal, the new single from our illustrious local songstress is secluded in a room of a distant, shady and enigmatic place.
A song of who the cap fits, of watching your own back. Tamsin advises “there’s criminals in the shadows, pull your friends a little closer.” But cross examines her own persuasions and faith in the notion, maybe, “we’re all scoundrels deep down inside.”
It’s as if the darker depths of Tamsin’s acute words in previous songs have come to detonation; executed sublimely, and produced with eminence by Phil Cooper. Scandal, out next Friday (30th August) is whole new level of excellence for this already blossoming star. I congratulated her, as vocally it sounds deeper and much more refined than anything before. Is that what she was hoping for?
“Yep,” she responds as ardently as the same ol’ Tammy, “I was totally going for the dark country vibes. Phil did such a great job producing it; I’m really pleased with the outcome. I hope its dramatic!”
Tis indeed, like Wynette at her darkest; she builds tension around the breakfast table, the penny drops as to why Billie Joe Macalister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge and the protagonist attempts to hide her secret affair. “So,” I asked, “this is for a forthcoming album? Can we expect the others to be similar, or am I divulging too much?!”
“I’m aiming for a new album next year. The plan is for another single in October, then a single in February, and the album in April.” Tamsin expands the answer, “not all of the songs are this dark, although I am working on another haunting one at the moment, but the whole album feels a lot more mature that Gypsy Blood. I feel like I’ve grown into myself, and I’m writing what I want to write, instead of what I think the crowd will love. Writing more for myself I guess, although I really hope others really like it too.”
That personal enlightenment brews Tamsin’s poise when performing live, “writing things for yourself does tend to give you a little more confidence in delivery. Which I guess gives other people faith that its good, if you have faith in yourself and your work.”
I’m certain when reviewing Gypsy Blood, I suggested Tamsin sounded more mature, guessing both are a natural progression, though. “Guess you gotta grow up somewhen!” she laughs. I think you never stop learning and growing artistically, until, perhaps you reach a pinnacle and it doesn’t sound so progressive. Does she fear ever reaching that age where they say, “old Tamsin, just going through the motions?”
After stressing the importance to her of critical feedback, she laughed at the notion. “I guess that’s where the whole ‘writing for yourself’ thing comes in, because if you like your songs then you won’t care what people are saying.” I suspect that time is a long way off, Scandal in a nutshell is poignant, emotive and, perhaps an unanticipated gift to our music scene, and based upon it, I hold my breath for the album.