This is doubtless unfair on Chas, who’s probably 6’ 4” with pecks like a gladiator, but we imagine him as one of those underweight singers with less hair than they once had, who turn out to have led interesting but ultimately tragic lives, maybe some drugs and an arrest or two, but all giving them wisdom. The backstory gives his songs appeal and there’s something intrinsically likable about him and the music. (Stick from Spender, in other words).
Rigby’s voice is not strong, while not being weak either, but he writes professional-sounding tunes and there’s a lot of instrumentation — this is not amateur or home-made music in any way.
The Press notes say Chas has had nearly as interesting a life as our imaginary one. He comes from Southport and played his first gig before he hit his teens, drummed with his first band aged 17, got married and divorced, took up the guitar and was playing the folk circuit by 30. He was “at the centre of the Manchester music scene”, launched an album at the Astoria in London and played Glastonbury. Said quickly it sounds good but it still adds up to him not being a household name.
Opener Cockleshells is not the strongest song on the album but it recalls life in Southport so we forgive him. It’s a fairly typical folk pop tune, a straight beat and strummed acoustic guitar. When It All Comes Down is more interesting with a fuzzy guitar intro and a good chorus — the latter is where you realise Chazzer can write good songs. Turn To Stone is more reflective — it’s about the ghost of former lover — and put us in mind of Saw Doctors sidekick Padraig Stevens.
Saturday opens with piano Let It Be style and Rigby’s voice sounding a bit stronger, and is a reflective song about ending a day’s work back in the “good old days”. There’s a nice sax solo. Morning Star is another reflective piano tune. Will you Still Love Me Tomorrow is a song the Saw Doctors themselves could write, a cheery yet thoughtful pop tune.
The two best songs come three quarters through, the rockier Shadowlands (shades of Del Amitri in the guitar) and Dolphin Blue — he lives on the east coast now, and it opens with guitar reminiscent of the waves (and Albatross) and while we’re not sure what Dolphin Blue is, it sounds a nice place. Pearls closes, a reflective song with the full band, and perhaps the most commercial song in the set.
A decent album for fans of folk pop and the underdog. As well as Saw Docs/Stevens, it put us in mind of bands such as Cosmic Rough Riders, Crash My Model Car and Martin John Henry. This is out on Lonesome Town Records.
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