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Rab Noakes Rab Noakes
Album: The Treatment Tapes EP
Label: Neon
Tracks: 6

Six songs and a healthy dose of gallows humour - if you didn't laugh you'd cry sort of thing. Six songs too, written during the pots-treatment recovery period from a bout of tonsillar cancer, recorded chronologically so they form part and parcel of the process. However, don't get bogged down with an expectation of self pity or melancholy; the songs reflect a defiance, hope, resilience and last but not least, a strong dose of wit and love.

Perhaps like many musicians, Rab sees the silver lining in every cloud "at least I know I'll probably get a couple of songs out of it." Although the more common stock in trade is the breakup album, he's talked of utilising his experience, his observations and his response to fuel his writing. You can almost tell by the song titles. 'By The Day (One More Shave 'n' Haircut)", 'That Won't Stop Me', 'Water Is My Friend' an indication that the collection overtly monitors his course and provides the vehicle for his reflections.

Accompanied by simple acoustic guitar and the percussion/double bass combo, Anne Rankin also provides a poignant oboe on 'Mindful', which also has lyrical contributions from Rab's wife Stephy speculating on the passage of time and the philosophy of be here now. Plus the handy tip which may have appeared somewhere else at some stage but who cares, of "be vital, like vinyl." It's his wife too who's the subject of 'I Always Will', a touching tribute; what he calls "a love song of ever deepening attachment"; a sentiment which often arises in the face of diversity.

The bluesy and lo fi 'That Won't Stop Me' mirroring the Noakes defiance and fight and is probably the central track on the set as opposed to the tongue in cheek manta and full band busk through 'Water Is My Friend.' It rounds off a set of songs which play their part in puncturing the tension; perhaps a new idea for therapies?

Mike Ainscoe