Richard Sutton: Paper Plane

review richard sutton x1 cong

There are people who like non-league football for its grassroots nature, people doing something for the love of it, and the same is true in music: this CD is one for people who love honest, heart-on-its-sleeve folk/pop.

Sutton is a guy who plays guitar (possibly for a living, he seems to play regularly at a venue local to him, The Albatross, Wells-Next-The-Sea) but he also writes his own material.

His friend and fellow musician Graham Dee — he could be the same Graham Dee who was a session musician in the 1960s, working alongside the likes of future Led Zeppelin members Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones — heard some of Sutton’s “very personal” tunes and was keen to help produce an album.

Paper Plane reflects on human fragility: assuming the songs are all biographical, Sutton has had his issues, from the drink to the drifting (as in through life, not on the backs of trains) who sleeps badly and possibly suffers from depression.

We get the feeling he’s one of those interesting, poetic people who find the cut-throat side of life a little difficult.

Much of the album seems to be about what could have been, the title track being about starting afresh, although he pins a lot of it on concrete ideas.

For example, we thought at first Irene was a personification of depression as he sings about the “beast at the door”, “Irene why have you stayed, Irene why won’t you fade” (though equally possibly it’s a bad-tempered woman he can’t get out of his head), but it’s superficially about Hurricane Irene. Leaves On The Line, about justifying fears and anxiety, compares the pathetic excuse train companies offer for late arrivals.

The music is Sutton and his guitar, with some other instrumentation.

This kind of gentle music needs good production to avoid sounding home-made and Dee has done a good job. The only complaint is that the CD lacks the lyrics, as it would be nice to read what he is singing.

After a couple of plays you start to like Sutton — not just the music, which to be fair is not exceptional, but him, as he sings so honestly about life. On that basis, a successful album.

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