Overall Album Score: 8.6 out of 10
This must be the nicest CD anyone ever sent me ... For some reason I'm pretty popular in Britain ... they're always sending me CDs.
Anyway, I'm going to guess these guys were going for the whole folk-pop scene along the lines of Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention, or The Kinks in Muswell Hillbillies. Maybe more recently they're related to Sarah MacLachlan, except the songs aren't quite so heavily produced and it wouldn't be fair to call this "adult contemporary."
The one aspect these guys seem to be on top of is their melodies, which I wish more mainstream writers would do. I mean, there's no potential Ray Davies here, but everything is mostly catchy. The instrumentals are another one of the album's best strengths. They do consist of the usual acoustic guitar, bass, drums ... but they also have a penchant for real country-home violins that tend to lend these tracks a breath of fresh air.
The best stuff on the album seems to appear at the beginning and the end. The enjoyable "What Did I Do?" starts the album off on the right foot (although I think their closing track "The Time Has Come" might have been more suited for that duty). "Kebab Crazed Nutter" is my favorite track to appear on the first half --- it's upbeat with some gypsy music stylings.
My favorite moment of the album must be "Going Home," which is an utterly gorgeous balld ... the melody is not only wonderful, but they let some violins add some beauty. That one's very nice.
This is a pretty album, and one that I'm glad I was able to listen to.
Overall Album Score: 8.6 out of 10 (Catchy melodies, organic instrumentation and fun vibes --- I wish more well-known musicians would do this.)
Average Song Score: 8.8 (The songwriting is absolutely solid. Catchy melodies aren't exactly few and far between.)
Album Tilt: 8.5 (They do a nice job keeping the mood throughout with a fair amount of diversity.)
Artist Rating: 8.5 (They're not exactly treading uncharted waters, but this is rather humble.)
What Did I Do? 9/10
This surely a nice, solid way to open an album. It's a nice upbeat track is a catchy melody and dependable rhythm section. The instrumentation is charmingly organic ... an electric organ, acoustic guitars and they throw in a nicely done violin solo for measure. I like the lead singing ... she's no Annie Haslam, but it's a voice quite capable of carrying a tune.
Kebab Crazed Nutter 9.5/10
This is a folk melody that reminds me of Paul McCartney's "Famous Groupies." Hey, that's a nice song too! The melody here is catchy and the atmosphere is light-hearted although I have a feeling the lyrics are a little bit less so. (You can see how much I care about lyrics...)
Modern Life 9/10
Good, it's a ballad ... Two upbeat songs and a ballad. That's how it's supposed to be. Sometimes bands falter when it comes to their ballads, but these guys prove just as good at those as they are with the upbeat ones. The trump card they hold is the melody, which is entirely well written. The instrumentation is quite solid ... It's mostly straitlaced but at least they insert a nice trumpet solo in there. There's some nice instrumentalists here...
The Salty Sea Dog 8/10
Back to the upbeat tracks. This is another fine effort although I don't think this melody is quite as nice as the other ones. It's more orchestral and sound-heavy, and it certainly has a nice sound. So, this song wins me over based on its arrangements. Whoever plays that violin solo in the background does a really nice job.
Absent Friends 7.5/10
This is also nice. They take the tone down and go for a more contemplative, somewhat mystical approach. A few echoey instruments imitating whale noises are prone to fade in and out. I do like their approach and this track certainly sounds professional. There's some very nice arrangments here. But my impression is that it's rather boring, and the melody doesn't seem to hit home.
Call Me 8/10
There's nothing like singing a nice melody to an acoustic guitar ... Well, it brings out humility anyway. It tends to wear out its welcome by the three-minute mark however.
Sunny Days 8/10
This a nice old-timey country ditty. Some of it strikes me as a bit too corny, but it has a catchy melody and a nice country-western atmosphere to it. I guess if you're going to write country music this is a nice way to do it.
Will You Come Dance With Me? 9.5/10
I really like this one ... It's happy and a tad corny, but it works well here. The instrumentals deliver a nice sunshiney atmosphere, and the violin noodling continues to be inspired. I also think this song is well developed ... it's not just a simple chord progression, and the instrumentation is even varied. Nice one.
School Days 9/10
A little sloppier this time, but that's hardly a negative ... who said anything had to be perfectly neat? It's the closest thing they get to a rock 'n' roll song although this is still clearly on the same folk-pop line. The bass is mixed a little loudly, but I do enjoy listening to it!
Going Home 10/10
They certainly seem to be saving the best for last ... This is another one of their slow folk ballads along the same lines as "Call Me" except the melody is much better, and they bring in some beautiful strings for back-up. This is extraordinary! The best of the album.
The Time Has Come 9.5/10
I think I would have opened with this song. This screams "we're just getting started" instead of "we're closing up shop." Well, this is an excellent song anyway that's fun and energetic. The melody is catchy, and I love that riff those violins are playing. This is some very excellent songwriting. OK, that's all.
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