Slowly To The Moon is singer-songwriter Tony's first solo album in 30 years, and he views it as his chance to re-establish himself as a solo artist following years spent in group lineups with The Bilious Brothers and Zingari Swing and country dance band The Quiet Man as well as pursuing an acting career. Tony's earlier solo albums date back to 1985 (Follow That With A Bucket And Shovel - a live album recorded at the Black Lion Folk Club, Salford) and 1987 (Uh-Oh) respectively, and admirers of those records will doubtless find much to commend on Slowly To The Moon, an album of ten brand new original songs. There's a certain air of 70s/80s nostalgic charm about Tony's writing, which despite my temporal observation can seem quite timeless in their unassuming well-craftedness. Tony's knack for writing catchy, simply observed songs has already been demonstrated in his work for film and TV and children's theatre shows over the past couple of decades, and the ten new songs comprising Slowly To The Moon prove he hasn't lost his touch.
Gently and melodiously self-accompanied on guitar, with occasional touches of keyboard, Tony's songs mostly inhabit a convivial, inclusive, sharing kind of personal nostalgia with which - despite their specific references to his own upbringing - everyone will be able to identify. For example, the title track draws chummily on Tony's youthful experience of visiting music festivals, and Mop Rags' Holiday evokes the innocent pleasures of a carefree childhood in a northern mill town, and the jaunty A Special Kind Of Day has something of the feel of the country-pop standard Travellin' Light. The later-in-life perspective of Raining Stones and In Time bring a darker and more reflective tone to proceedings. Tony also pays tribute to his parents individually: both were Irish immigrants, but tell quite different stories: Back To You And Home tells of his father and his constant unfulfilled desire to return home to County Mayo, while Where Louisa Sings, in contrast, is an affectionate memoir to his mother who sang to entertain friends and family in the early 30s in Stockport.
Tony's songs won't set the world on fire or raise the rafters with the voice of protest, but Slowly To The Moon is a pleasing way of spending 42 minutes, a generous, warm-hearted and uplifting set of songs that exhibit a quiet and thoroughly genuine old-fashioned charm that we don't encounter much nowadays.
|Various Artists: Gentle Giants: The Songs Of Don Williams||Martin Heaton: Pillow Talk|
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