Critical Discs [Release date 11.05.15]
David Sinclair has assiduously built up a catalogue of impressive songs and raised his profile to the point that his new album ‘David Sinclair Four’ boasts guest appearances by Maxi Priest, Paul Jones, Scottish vocalist Lorna Reid and Robin Trower producer Livingstone Brown.
The album title is also very relevant, because although it’s a song-driven affair, it is very much a band effort, with tight arrangements and sparkling solos that highlight Sinclair’s abilities as a wordsmith.
‘DS4’ is full of thoughtful lyrics, strong melodies, catchy hooks and pays due attention to fattened out vocals. So much so, that when Geoff Peel fires off the opening crashing chords and portentous atmospherics of the reflective minor key blues ‘Life Gone Cold’, Sinclair rises to the challenge by phrasing his lyrics with a range of emotion and no little irony.
David is similarly good on the live-in-the-studio, ‘World Turns Around’, which features Paul Jones on lyrical harp and Geoff Peel on slide guitar, on a song that has the familiar feel of a blues standard and nicely manages to rhyme ‘bands’with ‘friends’.
He add an extra layer of vocals on the chorus of ‘The Illness & The Cure’ to give it a memorable quality, which is in sharp contrast to his own own rapped out vocal. Geoff Peel’s subtle ascending solo pushes the song towards it’s concluding chorus and a subsequent gentle drop-down
David is never going to be a heavy-duty vocalist, but mercifully he’s lost that annoying late 70′s sounding, punky phrasing, with the result that he engages the listener more readily.
The album is also notable for its attention to minutiae, from the doubled-up vocals to the potent guitar parts and overall bright sonic quality.
He’s always had the ability to pen a catchy tune, as evidenced by 2011’s ‘Living Like A Yo Yo’. He emulates here, with a catchy opener ‘Sick of Being Good’, an apparent middle aged lament with a straight-to-the-vein repeated thematic hook.
‘The Click Clack Man’ is equally good, being a Tom Waits style character portrait with enough lyrical eclecticism to keep us all guessing, over a suitably percussive backing track.
He explores the same alter ego referenced on the opening track, on the heavier and funky ‘Crude Emotion’: “I like to hang round midnight bars, I’ll take my chances with loud guitars.” The hard rock style hook is as surprising as it is uplifting, as Peel soars into the night with a bristling solo, before an impressively tight finish.
Conversely, David’s duet with Maxi Priest on the reggae lilt of ‘Down By The Canal’ initially sounds like an adventurous step too far, until it suddenly kicks in with Maxi’s mid-number lead vocal, backed by a singalong ‘woo-ooh’ refrain and Geoff’s chiming guitar line.
The band heads for a country rock on ‘Give Me A Rose’, complete with Beatlesy bv’s and David excels on a Nashville style co-written duet with Scottish vocalist Lorna Reid, notable for its strong chorus and surprising good harmonies..
He closes with the train-time ‘Coming Off The Rails’, which is well suited to both his blues sensibility and his story telling ability. He charts the romantic ideal and it’s inevitable opposite, as his character moves from an apparent high of: “Living on the welfare, playing in a band, got myself a deal, a couple hundred grand,” to the inevitable fall out: “Now I’m sitting here in this park, all the people gone and its getting dark, hey there buddy, could you spare a buck?”
Geoff Peel adds his best solo of the album on a turbo charged finish that mirrors the inevitability of the song title.
‘David Sinclair Four’ is David Sinclair’s most accomplished album. He finally sounds as if he’s found the kind of road tested band to do his songs justice. ****
Review by Pete Feenstra
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