The name and cover photo playfully designed to both pre-empt and elicit those CS&N comparisons, if you know your UK Americana then you'll know this new homegrown close harmony supergroup lines up as Robin Bennett from The Dreaming Spires, Danny Wilson of Grand Drive/Champions of the World fame and Tony Poole, veteran 12 string Rickenbacker maestro of brief-lived 70s outfit Starry Eyed and Laughing, hailed as the English Byrds.
From the above you should have a pretty good idea of the music on offer, emulation rather than imitation, kicking off with all three taking lead on alternating verses on the jangling melodic rush of 'Soon Enough' which, with its zen-like lyrics ("Life is a mystery train, never know when it's arrived, the journey is all we have to let us know we're alive"), ends on some 'Eight Miles High'-like reverse guitar before hitting those CS&N harmony beats for the mid-tempo 'Ask Me Anything', featuring a Danny Whitten-ish guitar break from Poole.
Following a backwards guitar psychedelic intro, 'Funny Guys' is a summery laid back chug, the laid back mood carrying over into the gentle depression-themed 'Hide Behind A Smile' with its pull together sentiments about how "you can ride your horse to win, but that's not the race we're running in" accompanied by organ, reverb guitars and a 12 string Poole solo bridge. Again touching on that same theme, though written by Bennett, introduced with harmonica, 'Wilson General Store' is based on Wilson's grandparents retail background in Melbourne and brings a note of whimsy to its celebration of small town community and family values with what Bennett calls a "60s psychy magic toyshop vibe."
By contrast, taking its cue from CSN&Y's 'Ohio', written about the 1970 Kent State shooting, 'Hate Won't Win' was written in response to the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016, just a couple of days before their first songwriting weekend and features suitably angry guitar breaks and a join together 'nah-nah-nahs'.
Turning to Beatles influences and more specifically 'Imagine'-era Lennon, the orchestral-sounding 'The Other Side of The Sky' is another 60 psychedelia coloured track, leading to another summery sheened number with 'That Thing That You Call Love' with its Travelling Wilburys echoes. Again showcasing Poole's jangling 12-string prowess, 'Not Forgetting' opens the album's closing phase, followed, a la Helplessly Hoping, by the jaunty, wholly acoustic 'Find Your Own Truth' (at one point planned for a solo Bennett album) before it culminates in the near eight minute 'Lifeboat (Take A Picture of Yourself)', Poole inspired by the juxtaposition of two articles, one about a refugee boat and the other on selfies and featuring the biting line "Man the lifeboat and mine the shore". The lead guitar jam parts recorded in one unedited take and the choruses sung live, it's a heady, sprawling epic that, as they openly admit, sounds uncannily like Neil Young's 'Down By The River'. In their live YouTube video recording of 'Handle With Care', Wilson jokingly refers to the trio as The Travelling Crosbyrds. Seems a perfect description to me.
|Gnoss: Brother Wind||Various Artists: Sonic Blooms|
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