Album review: GALEN AYERS – Monument

GALEN AYERS - Monument

Bombinate [Release date: 27.07.18]

A confident debut here from this British US/Greece-based singer-songwriter, ‘Monument’ births short/sharp essays in personal values and beliefs in a swell of acoustic ambience.

Cool to the point-of-chilly opener, ‘You Choose’ sets out her stall with a simple message to follow your star, to not be blind-sided by the opinion of others. The songs are sweet, sad and to the point. Toting an ancient Gibson acoustic gifted to her by her late father by way of Jimi Hendrix, Ayers gets things off her chest without beating it.

She can certainly write a song, has an engaging way with words, and it’s not a gloom-fest: ‘Run Baby Run’ clips along nicely, and in Spanish (she lived in the Balearics for some time) and ‘U-Turn’ is droll and upbeat – but nothing here is flippant.

Her honeyed, attractively-mannered vocal walks us through what seems to have been a somewhat chaotic and nomadic life, often spent on Mediterranean communes in the company of charming, wayward father, Kevin. It is clear she adored the late Soft Machine founder, who went on to enjoy an uneven solo career notable for moments of teetering genius.

‘Monument’ is about moving on but best serves to expunge the misery of losing him while asserting all the good he brought to bear to her life. It is done with brio, humour and intelligence, benefiting from strong session musician support that summons the spirit of Canada’s Cowboy Junkies at times, and there’s not a whiff of any of the ‘heavy friends’ often called in on favours for the offspring of the famous.

That said, Galen has a friend in Kevin’s early-70s’ collaborator, Bridget St John, the two performing his songs at venues this year in their adopted home of New York City, and there’s welcome talk of the duo bringing the show to the UK in 2019.

‘Monument’ comes in eco-friendly digifile and vinyl formats, never resorts to the sledgehammer to crack a nut, ticks all the right boxes with a succinct charm. Her next album will determine who she became.  ****

Review by Rob Peters

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