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Ceri James And The Three FifthsCeri James And The Three Fifths
Album: St Augustine's Heart
Label: Heed
Tracks: 11

Not so long ago Ceri James was busking on the London Underground, now he's releasing his fifth studio album, this time teaming up with Three Fifths. And this is a cracking collection songs which show how Ceri's writing has come on.

Working with the band, the songs have a real urgency and confidence. Songs like the opening Sweet Illusion and Dance Little Esme sound full of life.

I particularly enjoyed the name-check song, Where's My Art Garfunkel?, the country-fied fiddle adding to the playful nature of this song. Where else can you get Keith Richards and Art Garfunkel mentioned in the same song? Wonderful.

The Wishing Moon features great drumming and is a more thoughtful song. The singing is strong and the playing is great.

The majority of the songs are written by Ceri, the exception being The Tree written by Mark Moynihan, and there's a joint credit on Friendship and Camaraderie with Matthew Jones.

Ceri is not afraid to tackle difficult subjects, Austere Crimes and Hard Times, pulls few punches. It's bluesy backbeat fits perfectly as he talks about people suffering with real blues. Full marks for getting Syria, ebola and paedophilia into a single verse!

When In Darkness is an upbeat jaunty number, complete with the Morris Folk Choir. Lovely stuff.

The rock 'n' roll number She's Tough Lover is a short but superb slice of Fifties nostalgia. Toe-tapping excellence.

Friendship and Camaraderie is a more subtle thought-provoking tune, beautifully crafted with sentiments that most of us will agree with.

Despite some of the thorny subject matter, the songs are very accessible, largely due to the efforts of the excellent backing band and production.

The album concludes with another hard-hitting song, Young Blood Ran Cold. A simple arrangement, guitar and voice supported by some excellent Hammond organ, allows the plaintive words to come across very well.

This is an interesting collection of songs with something for everyone. Very enjoyable.

John Knighton

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