Saturday, 8 August 2020

The Loft Club - Dreaming The Impossible, album review

Symmetry of Sound

Symmetry: here we are on a hot summer’s day in Devon and I’m listening to a hot new band from Devon. The ‘new’ is relative, as is the heat in as much as we might expect more of it in August, but the weather is transitory as much as it is fickle. The Loft Club formed in 2015, and that is still newish, but their sound can trace its lineage back to the one thing that does stay constant and survives: good music, theirs most noticeably for me thriving on harmonies you might like to tag as West Coast but which actually informs any good use of such, as in Americana, another tag, that some of their songs suggest. It’s all in the hearing and the liking. As a general comment, the music they play can be reminiscent of what I liked in the mid to late 60s, but it is also the music Ronnie Sullivan would walk on to in the World Snooker Championships.

The album title track and album opener begins with sways of guitar chords that break into 90s’ return-rock echoes and this reminds too from where the influences, but also current fine song-writing, emanates. Second Heard Her Say keeps the rockier underscore in tight rhythms but also ‘lalala’ vocal inserts that play with its pop sensibilities – an expanded atmospheric break just over halfway through leads onto some other playful bass and drum runs before the ‘lalala’ returns. It’s third I’m Just a Man that punches more, introductory feedback setting up a catchy Beatles-esque groove.

This is the nature of the songcraft and performance. True Love is a sweet ballad with a sweep of those guitar swathes and matching vocal harmony rises, a genuinely pretty song that does remind of Crowded House, as it does a little in the next Keep Me Coming Home: a touchstone, like any others, as compliment to quality and recognition there will always be links and that ‘lineage’ I mentioned earlier. Let it Slide is once more blessed with great vocal harmonies, the guitar work fuzzed through for grittier impact and a bass line dancing pertinently: I have a natural inclination to that ‘heavier’ sound and this is catchy, the drumming joining in the outrun that gets almost psychedelicised.

Now, Made in England, let’s be clear, is no post-Brexit paean, served with a ‘cup of tea’ and other lyrics I need to spend some more time listening to – the point is this first hearing picks up on the musicality and there are clearly more depths beyond that. Penultimate song Waves rolls on its shore with a brooding start and breaks into more of those strong harmonies and guitar surges as signature; the closer Flicker features Grammy Award winning Lisa Leob so there’s a noteworthy coup, but only if it works – and it does: this is upbeat and shines in the vocal pleasantries that have been a significant feature throughout. 

The band: Daniel Schamroth - Vocals/guitar; Jamie Whyte - Bass/vocals; Kieran Chalmers - Drums; Amy O'Loughlin - Vocals; Sam Piper - Guitar

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Bob Dylan - Rough and Rowdy Ways, album review


There are enough knowing and detailed reviews out there for me to defer. My core observation is that this is a mesmerising listen, what Dylan has called his 'trance' music, and it is in the incantation-drive of the rolling and/or pulsing musical lines, sometimes quite sweetly melodic, accompanied by the rhythm of the poetry, those rhyming couplets that shout their simple chimes before arrival and how this tugs us to them. The voice too, gravitas over gravel - the latter an annoyance around for quite awhile - but here the perfect trance-voice to convey the emotive, even over meaning if the lyric isn't immediately absorbed. For those of my generation, the references/touchstones are echos as much as anything else, and this pulls us in as well.

Friday, 3 July 2020

Eye Music 53

Willie Nelson - First Rose of Spring, album review


Twee album cover; wonderfully reflective content.

Mainly a covers album, Nelson adds not just his signature sound but a history that imbues all with depths of experience and understanding.

The album title opener is as plaintive as a wailing harmonica can be in accompanying emotive pedal steel. That Nelson covers the Chris Stapleton penned Our Song is a superb reverse tribute, and Willie’s lifetime ‘with living’ adds its own colossal narrative. The closer cover of Yesterday When I was Young says it all.

This isn’t maudlin and has an accepting lament inherent in the reflection on aging and change, as in the Nelson/Cannon penned second track Blue Star where ‘the same old me and you’ asserts what does remain constant in this process.

Eye Music 52

Monday, 29 June 2020

Ryan Perry - High Risk, Low Reward, album review

Blues Exploration

This is a fine blues album, aptly slick at times in the Robert Cray mode of things, Perry having his own identifiable silk in the playing, and a strong vocal, but there is also plenty of funk and riffs throughout to play it gutsy as well.

There are quick riffs binding a song together as in One Thing’s for Certain [with neat harmonies on the chorus], and this also has a slowdown moment with guitar and bass that delights; opener Ain’t Afraid to Eat Alone has a long guitar setter to establish the blues prowess as smoothly grooved; on B.B. King’s Why I Sing the Blues has Perry letting a little loose too, and a favourite is the genuinely funked Homesick where the riff is tightly blunt, the staccato tempos controlled to perfection by Roger Inniss on bass and Lucy Piper on drums.

The title track and the closer Hard Times play it in the blues of a swamp heat, especially the fuzzed haze of the latter, and here are the true guts in a band that can also play it sweet – this wonderful dynamics of the blues if you are prepared to explore.