A mixed bag then from Nottingham's self-proclaimed favourite skiffle band, DH Lawrence and the Vaudeville Skiffle Show, who follow up their 2013 debut EP with this full length platter full of evocative and ribald titles such as "Every City Needs A Whorehouse", "Lady Chatterley's Bower", "A Needle & The Christ And A Soul Gone God Knows Where" and "Drink Another Bottle" - I think we know where this lot are coming from and where they're headed!
They were described as "a breath of fresh air in a crowded musical marketplace" by No Depression, and lyrically, if not musically, this could well be true. The album was apparently conceived in a little wooden cabin, deep in the heart of Lawrence County and the lyrics are clearly influenced by Nottinghamshire's most famous literary son and the accompanying period.
But as debut albums are want to produce, it's a curious mix of formulaic folk-rock-by-numbers (witness opening trio "You Saw Me Fall", "Diane" and "Every City Needs A Whorehouse" - which is strangely reminiscent of one of skiffle's great modern exponents Gerry Colvin of Terry & Gerry), and genuine moments of musical inspiration.
"Lady Chatterley's Bower" falls distinctly into the latter category with it's hook-laden chorus built around a simple acoustic guitar rhythm and subtle use of ragged harmony and barely heard fiddle. "Cherokee Shuffle", all one a half instrumental minutes of it set to Appalachian quick step mode, segues nicely into the albums stand out track "Vaudeville Show" complete with atmospheric and period descriptive spoken word intro. This song benefits greatly from the 'everything and the kitch-en sink' approach, as kazoo, harp, jaws harp, fiddle, acoustic guitar, banjo, accordion and wash-board combine with the evocative lyric to produce a gorgeous 'wall of skiffle' scene, which is highly infectious.
As debut albums go, it's certainly not going to win any 'album of the year' prizes, but what it does have is genuine promise, and if these intrepid skifflers can come up with more songs of the standard of the highlighted mid-album trio, then the follow up album should be a belter!
|Malcolm Holcombe: Another Black Hole|
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