Friday, 8 January 2016

Fernando - Leave The Radio On, album review

Enthusing on the Effusing

Since seeing Fernando in November 2014 – supporting the Delines – and in listening to two of his solo records, reviewed here, I consider myself a fan of this musical journeyman whose heart and soul is clearly in performing. I have had this album since its recent release [disc and vinyl, numbered, and child’s art from the sender!], listening often, and this review is mainly to enthuse about more excellent songwriting and playing.

The opening three tracks are most interesting for their clear late 60s psychedelic leanings: mainly the echo, distortion and some fuzz, much on the vocal – Save Me with its acoustic guitar opening and immediate resonance in the vocal, the organ swirl in the background, and then the light fuzz on the singing when the band kicks in; The Dogs with its finger-plucked acoustic start, the descending vocal line bathed in reverb, organ again, fuzz guitar as the instrumentation increases, a sitar-sound, distortion like a wind storm in the background, and an ending that rails out with fuzz and pedal-steel aching underneath, pounding like a train rolling on tracks [there is a lot going on in this one], and El Interior with its brooding start, psych-mysterious lyrics and overdubbed vocal setting a melancholic tone, pedal steel again – until the ‘Mexican’ horns interrupt and change the mood.

Things change after this, although also remain the same. So Loud is swathed in sweet harmonies, increasingly complex and Beatles-esque at times; sixth The Freak is even more an echo of that Beatles [ELO, you get what I mean] sound – not pastiche, and similar I’d heard in those earlier solo albums, so consistent as influence; ninth White Trees is a beautiful and gentle folk song, Fernando’s voice pleasingly unadorned though harmonised at times; tenth In Their Heads again a gentler number, echo returning with mandolin and pedal steel adding atmospherics, and closer and title track a return to the opening psych sound, here a wonderful evocation of the late 60s with a pop-effused, melodic celebration.

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