Let's not beat about the bush. This 6 track EP by Bill DeMain is superb. Bill who? Well, he is respected music journalist who writes for Mojo, Classic Rock, Musician and Performing Songwriter magazines. He is also a songwriter and musician. He is one half of the duo Swan Dive who have released nine albums and is an acclaimed songwriter, having written for and with, Marshall Crenshaw, David Mead, Boo Hewerdine and Kim Richey.
This EP is Bill's debut solo release and what a cracker it is. It is a thing of beauty which, ironically, came about through Bill's personal misfortune. In 2010, Bill's house was inundated by the infamous Nashville flood and he lost many of his possessions .Four months later, his home was destroyed by fire and he became homelees. Thankfully, he managed to rescue his precious 1937 Martin guitar and whilst he was waiting for his house to be rebuilt, he decided to make this record to take his mind off losing his home.
Bill's experience of becoming homeless is captured in the first song, "Looking for a Place to Live", in which he recounts those unfortunate events with commendable good humour [ "Lost the roof above my head and all the stars were laughing, Turned around and watched our bed float away down stream"].The second song "St.Joe's '75 " is a definite nod to Brian Wilson . Complete with Beach Boys harmonies and a raucous sax solo, it is a song about "being raised a Catholic in a small town". It also features some fine whistling ! Possibly the best song the Beach Boys never recorded.
Bill puts his other influences to good use on the other tracks, whilst maintaining his own identity. "In Your Letter" is a piano and strings ballad which has echoes of Randy Newman ."Honey Love " contains some lovely analogue synth which wouldn't sound out of place on "Abbey Road". Similarly, "Common Love Song " features some Beatles-ish ascending guitar and harmonies.
Harry Nilsson is another obvious point of reference, particularly on "Raggedy Man", which was co-written with David Mead and which features some some great harmonica. The song is about the precarious financial position of being the significant other of a songwriter, with lines such as " We're all just gypsies in a long shot caravan " and "Every day's a ticket on a lottery ".
All in all, this is a wonderful EP. It's a confection of excellent songwriting, fine playing and timeless West Coast harmonies. Highly recommended.
P.S. I'm off to investigate those Swan Dive albums!
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