Quick plays: OFFICER, GILMORE & ROBERTS, HIP HATCHET, SAM LEWIS

Officer - Myriads

OFFICER Myriads

You’d think – in these digital days – if you were going to record under a pseudo name, you’d have the foresight to pick one that might be a little easier to find via Google.  But unless you’ve got DC Logan’s album moniker to hand, it could be a long job.

Which is a shame, because the debut album by this London based ‘indie soundscape’ singer songwriter – who was born in Glasgow and who spent his teens amidst the troubles in Northern Ireland – is a very promising affair.  The lead single ‘My Darling Defibrillator’ has been compared to Florence + The Machine, and the haunting album opener – ‘Laughing Rafters’ – bears many of the construction hallmarks of Ed Sheeran’s X material.

But Myriads – crowd-funded by his fan base – while it fits neatly into the current adult pop trend, equally harks back to the likes of Bryan Ferry, Ultravox and The Editors, and it’s nice to see a release that stretches way beyond the confines of vinyl.  In particular, Officer’s vocals have an engaging warmth and intimacy that could make him stand out from the crowd.

So while not exactly breaking fresh ground (what does these days?), Myriads could well signals the arrival of an artist who, with the right breaks, might be soon be an awful lot easier to find on your search engine.  ***

Review by Peter Whalley

GILMORE & ROBERTS Conflict Tourism

GILMORE & ROBERTS Conflict Tourism

Conflict Tourism is a rather enchanting fourth album from folk duo Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts who have been twice nominated at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

Their last album, The Innocent Left (2012) saw them progress from two self-produced releases to a more ‘professional’ set and Conflict Tourism – this time produced by Mark Tucker, and with support from Matt Downer (double and electric bass), Phil Henry (dobro and lap steel) continues the progression.

Although having made a name for themselves on the UK acoustic circuit, and at heart being a folk act, it’s the duo’s willingness to experiment with elements of more contemporary genres that raise them above many of their contemporaries.  Cecilia has elements of Ed Sheeran style pop, and ‘Stumble On The Seam’ is on a par with the excellent work Judie Tzuke is regularly producing.

If Gilmore & Roberts can build on these aspects of their work (that is, if they have a desire to do so) they could easily find a much broader appeal.  ***1/2

Review by Pete Whalley

SAM LEWIS Waiting On You

Cowboy boots, blue denims, long hair and a heavy beard sort of signal what you might expect on the soul infused folk/country/blues release.  It’s a laid back, unchallenging album that clashes country with the blues and some classic soul.

It’s a curious – largely acoustic based  – release from the Nashville songsmith, and one that it’s hard to see anyone fawning over.  It’s not unpleasant in a late night bar, sort of way, Lewis’s lazy James Taylor style vocals fitting perfectly with the relaxed vibe that permeates the release.  One strictly for the midnight hour.  **1/2

Review by Peter Whalley

SIMON MURPHY – Let It Be

Doubling up songwriting with his day job as a psychiatric nurse, it’s to be hoped that the Northern Irish singer looks less psychotic in real life than he does on the cover of his debut album Let It Be.

While in the ‘head on’ shot on the front cover he looks merely wearied, three semi side profile shots – each expressionless with staring eyes – look frankly scary (in a Ron Mael sort of way).

The reality is that Let It Be is far less ‘challenging’.  In fact, it’s very ‘middle of the road’.  Featuring some of Northern Ireland’s top musicians including Kaz Hawkins on vocals, Linley Hamilton on trumpet and Anthony Toner on slide, lap steel and electric guitars, it’s little surprise that Murphy’s been garnering  enthusiastic support from BBC Radio Ulster.

But while Let it Be is a polished affair, it cuts little fresh ground and perhaps reflects the fact that material has been written with radio play in mind.  And that’s not very rock ‘n’ roll.  At least, not in my book.  **1/2

Review by Pete Whalley

HIP HATCHET Hold You Like A Harness

Looking and sounding like a not too distant laid back relative of Seasick Steve, the vocals of Hip Hatchet – aka Philippe Bronchtein – meander from a Ray LaMontagne whisper to a deeper growl.

His most fully orchestrated album to date, it includes contributions from Scott Davis on guitar, Nathan Crockett on violin, and Ty Baile on B3 and piano, and has a sound that bears many of the hallmarks of the work on Marc Cohn.

His fourth solo release, Hold You Like A Harness, pulls on Hatchett’s experiences to create a vivid and fulsome storytelling Americana release.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley

MARK BROWN Skin & Bone

His PR blurb suggests on first listen you might wonder where country singer Mark Brown’s been and why it’s taken him so long to get here.  A more pertinent question might whether it was a journey worth making.

He might have 25 years’ experience, and his material may be delivered firmly ‘tongue in cheek’, but his observational wit incorporated in ballads, cowboy songs, jigs, sideshow melodies  and field hollers delivered in a sub-Johnny Cash/Tom Waits style feels a bit ‘cheesy’.  Mildly amusing, but a little goes a long, long way and who really wants to listen to a ditty with a chorus line of ‘I don’t wanna get smashed’?

Vocally, and musically, I’ve heard significantly worse, but in terms of lyrical content, Skin & Bones, like the title suggests, lacks any real substance.  **

Review by Pete Whalley


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Power Plays w/c 14 October (Mon-Fri)

SANGUINE Ignite (Odyssey Music)
GOODBYE JUNE Switchblade Heart (Earache)
SAINTS OF SIN Nasty Love (indie)
SCARLET REBELS Heal (indie)
FLYING COLORS The Loss Inside (Mascot)
KEYWEST C’est La Vie (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 14 October (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 DANGER ZONE Don’t Count On Heroes (Pride & Joy Music)
12:00-13:00 ECLIPSE Paradigm (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 GALLAGHER & LYLE Live at De Montfort Hall, 1977 (The Store For Music)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

ROBIN TROWER In The Line Of Fire (1990)



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