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The Tin Heart Troubadours The Tin Heart Troubadours
Album: Collected Short Stories
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 13
Website: https://www.facebook.com/thetinhearttroubadours

Just under two years ago I reviewed the debut EP by Norfolk-based trio The Tin Heart Troubadours, which though employing an unusual and distinctive instrumental complement (guitar, cello and dobro) and containing some really good ideas, seemed to not quite convince. The band's output is honestly self-described as "American parlour music", their original songs telling "tall tales of low-life, long odds, high hopes and big deals … short stories of hot nights and cold lead in heaven and hell".

All songs bar one are penned by guitarist/lead vocalist Nigel Orme, who with Steve Clark (dobro) and Clare Pastorius (cello) is clearly on a mutually-agreed mission to claim and carve a particular niche for the trio within the over-subscribed world of Americana/roots-inspired folk; and to an extent there's a down-home, intimate (and admirably modest) individuality to their work which I can respond to, as much as to the quality of the playing (I particularly rate Steve's, but they're all good). There's clearly been a step forward in the trio's music (and "corporate identity", I guess) since the EP, and I sense a greater assurance all round to complement the rather toes-in-the-water, albeit attractive "three old friends making music together from the same hymn sheet" feel with which the EP was put together.

Anyone who'd already invested in the EP will be interested to compare its versions of the same four songs with their counterparts on this new full-lengther - but I'm not sure there's much in the way of difference from my memory of the EP, and I can't put my hand on that disc for now… But for sure, an extra factor in the Troubadours' appeal this time round is their engagement of a quartet of string players (The Heart Strings) to flesh out the texture on several of the album's tracks, including the curiously earworm-inducing antique-lullaby Goodnight that closes the disc.

Yes, Tin Heart Troubadours do convince better on this new album, but there's still a feeling of trying too hard to make an impression and it doesn't quite come off. So I guess I can't help wondering what manner of subsequent development will enable the trio to sustain and build on their original appeal and take their music forward.

David Kidman