If ever an album hid its delights in its opening bars, it’s this.
The start of opener The Girl With The Red Blouse sounds something like a country take on Wet Wet Wet’s Something In The Air, a gentle, slow pop tune with soft vocals, no indication of what’s coming. Then it builds in power and strength, first with Springsteen-style sax in the background then meaty guitar licks, the song ending with sax and guitar trading riffs like good ‘uns. The soft vocals are still there, though.
Track two Moving On knows it’s not going to fool anyone and the guitar comes in straight away, albeit gently, later with two guitar breaks worthy of Slash. As a song, it sounds like a lost classic from the 70s, the vocals warm and likeable.
After the impressive opening, the album seems content to chill a bit and settles into a country feel, track three Walking almost being a country pop tune – again sounding like a lost 70s song, and with warm vocals and some decent guitar – as does the slow and lighters-in-the-air For The First Time.
While as an album it’s mostly at an easy pace, Front Page News is uptempo, while Cat Song – which starts off with a cat purring – is bass-heavy and darker, with a guitar solo that reminded us of Sad Cafe.
Frontman Nick Allen addresses various topics in his lyrics but Walking, The First Time and Obstacles is a trio of country rock ballads that see him talk about a motorcycle accident that left him wheelchair-bound. Obstacles talks in the third person about the difficulties experienced through a lifetime in a wheelchair while The First Time sees him daydreaming of standing on his own feet again to “look into a girl’s eyes and hold her”.
Some other reviews we read on this were lukewarm. All we can say is, there are some funny buggers about, clearly deaf to good music. Sure, it’s not a classic and it’s more comfy slippers than a pair of cowboy boots stomping over your ears but it’s well played and written – all the players are seasoned veterans – and we’ve enjoyed it every time we’ve played it; they blend southern boogie, 70s rock and country to make a coherent album.
The Press notes talk about Tom Petty but, much as we hate to disagree with the guy who wrote the album, we can’t hear so much Tom in it as echoes of 70s bands like Traffic or the Faces, plus Slash, of course.