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Boo Hewerdine Boo Hewerdine
Album: Swimming In Mercury
Label: Reveal
Tracks: 12

Boo Hewerdine has rightly established himself as one of the best and hardest-working singer/songwriter/collaborators in the industry today, but it has been eight years since his last studio album of original material (2009's 'God Bless The Pretty Things'). Not that he has been quiet during that period. He tours regularly with Eddi Reader, has collaborated with many of acoustica's finest including Kris Drever, Brooks Willliams and Findlay Napier, and released several singles, EPs and compilation albums not least 2015's 'My Name In The Brackets', a fine 'Best of…' reflecting his career to date, and he's written a musical, 'Fancy Pants', with Chris Difford (yes, really!).

He's also a prolific live performer in small venues, Arts Centres and house concerts, usually solo or with a hand-picked support act with whom he will collaborate on a few numbers, most recently seen out with Birmingham's Dan Whitehouse.

So its unusual, but pleasing, to hear Boo's songs set in a studio environment, well-produced and with a full array of instrumentation at his disposal. But it's a fine, diverse collection of songs, which will help cement his reputation as a master of his craft.

Opener 'Satellite Town' could be straight out of the back-catalogue of Boo's 80s shouldabeen band The Bible, save for some inexplicable jazzy dream sequences that punctuate the otherwise poppy, keyboard-laden offering. Then two equally upbeat compositions, 'A Letter To My Younger Self' and 'My First Band', reflect the retrospective and pseudo-autobiographical side of Boo's song-writing.

'American TV' is a delightful showcase of Boo's production skills. Opening with some perfectly reconstructed 60s TV interlude music, the song evolves through a typical Boo collection of wryly observed couplets into a chorus which captures the feel and layered harmonies of California surfing songs perfectly. Put this alongside early Beach Boys and defy anyone to tell the difference.

Other highlights include 'The Year That I Was Born', a slow-burning catalogue of the events of 1961. All Cold War and baby-boomer uncertainty; a fine example of the songwriter's craft, as is the title track, which closes the album.

Boo will be out playing shows with a band, for the first time on tour in many years, during May, at festivals over the summer before embarking on a longer tour with Brooks Williams (as their duo 'State of the Union') during September and October.

Ian Taylor