BUFORD POPE The Waiting Game

BUFORD POPE The Waiting Game [Release date 08.04.19]

Swedish singer songwriter Buford Pope (aka Mikael Liljeborg) – with raspy vocals reminiscent of a young (albeit tight trousered) Rod Stewart – literally plays the waiting game with his eighth release, in the hope of breaking the US of A.

While his Sticks In The Throat effort five years ago echoed the 1980s glory days of Bryan Adams, The Boss, Jackson Browne and Tom Petty, The Waiting Game taps into the current Americana vogue.

With nods to Springsteen, Dylan and the like, it’s a delicate set steeped in pedal steel, dobro, mandolin, violin, and viola from the haunting opening calling card ‘America’, through the wonderfully sparse Robbie Robertson-soundscape of ‘Hey Hey Aha’, and beyond into the mid-west dustbowls, through to the Deep South blues of ‘A Hundred and Ninety-Nine’.

It’s unquestionably another quality effort, but the Americana market is one of the most overcrowded in terms of talent.  So while The Waiting Game may ooze credibility, the likelihood is that, sadly, it’s unlikely to see Pope making significant inroads in the marketplace.  ***1/2

Review by Pete Whalley

THE WORLD OF MICK Mick I www.mick.world

Mick I – the first ‘full length’ debut by Brighton based session musician, guitar tutor, and studio owner Mick/Mickey Wynne is a somewhat ‘out of time’ release rooted in the Sixties with the set opener ‘Love Of My Woman’ a live, ‘busky’ type song McCartney would come up with, similarly on ‘I’ll Always Be With You’, and with ‘Beautiful Thing’ bearing all the song writing hallmarks of Lennon & McCartney.

Which is perhaps of little surprise as Wynne grew up in Liverpool during the Merseybeat boom, and one of his claims to fame is teaching Julian Lennon to play guitar at age 16.  The other trophy on his CV is working with John Entwistle on his late nineties The Who side project The Pioneers who released a self-titled country-rock album in 1999 on which Wynne played lead guitar.

But while Wynne’s writing style is very much ‘old school’ it covers a wide range of bases from the blues (‘Blues For Mr Johnson’), to Latin infused dance (‘La Troc’) and mild funk (‘You Are The Message’) in a ‘classic’ pop/rock singer songwriter style not too far distanced from that of Guy Chambers (Robbie Williams) and that of The Waterboys/World Party’s Karl Wallinger.  ‘All Quie’t even bears tones of Knopfler/Dire Straits.

Bringing talented musicians including pedal-steel guitarist B. J. Cole, Irish singer Patrick Bergin, and Jim Mortimore (bass) together, Mick I is a well written, well-crafted and infinitely listenable set – one that is easy to imagine being  embraced by Radio 2 listeners – and seeing him opening for the likes of Paul Carrack.  ***1/2

Review by Pete Whalley

LENY’S GIRL Walk Outside Again [Release date 16.03.18]

Morphing from A Band Named Trevor – a fairly rootsy Aussie blues band – Leny’s Girl look to expand their repertoire (and audience) with a wider reaching set.

The only line-up change is the addition of harmonica player Bob ‘Cookie’ Cooke, adding another layer of ‘cool’ to a line-up of Begsy (guitars), Brownie (drums) Tom Raw (bass), and vocalist Kasey McKenzie (a singer with an impressive set of pipes rooted in amateur theatre (Evita, Guys & Dolls, Annie, Wicked and many more).

The set opener ‘Pretend’ – a somewhat disjointed rootsy affair – picks up the A Band Named Trevor baton sounding like Imelda May on steroids and while it may be a great live set closer, is perhaps not the best calling card.

Elsewhere, there’s more of a late 60′s/early 70′s blue rock vibe with Kasey McKenzie doing her best Janis Joplin impersonation, with Begsy and Cookie’s combination of guitar and harmonica adding to the ‘period’ feel, with ‘Don’t Come Back’ being the album’s ultimate ‘wig out’.

But overall, there’s no clear strategy which leaves Walk Outside Again lacking a clear focus.  So when you’ve got some cracking emerging blues artists here – Elles Bailey and Rebecca Downes, to name but two with excellent current releases – why would you look further?

Although to be fair, Leny’s Girl do offer something a little more ‘earthy’.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley

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In this two hour special David Randall plays a selection of the GRTR! reviewer choices for ‘Best of 2019′ and announces the results of the popular poll. First broadcast Sunday 22 December 2019.

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