Even better, folk troubadour David Thomas Broughton manages to sound sinister and plummy and eccentrically Northern all at the same time.
Oh blimey another great release from Song, By Toad records. How they consistently knock out such gems is a mystery, but a sweet one. Their latest release is an absolute belter, packed full of the sort of belligerent eccentricity we all need; one shaky hand on the tiller the other declaiming madly to the heavens. Even better, folk troubadour David Thomas Broughton manages to sound sinister and plummy and eccentrically Northern all at the same time. He fantasizes wildly throughout Sliding the Same Way; coming on like some old spiv with greasy cuffs, or some parson who’s strayed from the straight and narrow. There are lots lyrics about redeeming, or forgiveness, or killing or glassing ‘pricks in this bar’; it’s all about getting your way through life and holding your own (the opening salvo, ‘aptly’ named In Service or The Assurance are uncompromising but also mesmerizing essays in a sort of dead-beat stoicism). Now and again we get some sort of acapella chain gang ‘thing’ going on (Been A While, Unshaven Boozer, Woodwork) albeit with the odd psychedelic Hitchcockian* twist. The backing vocals (provided by Juice) add a cheeky counterpoint that sometimes gives a weirdly academic air; this record is the sort of thing Ivor Cutler or John Cale would have made around 1972; listen to The Promise and tell me if I’m wrong, I dare you. Or Patrick Fitzgerald for that matter, especially when you hear Oh Nurse of Mine.
It is an old sounding record it really is; a foray into a folksy new Brutalism, a gently whacked out acoustic pre-punk, à la Peter Hamill. It makes you think of balding professors with comb overs reading Ronnie Laing in their luncheon hour. Other passages often get very loose and sylvan, the incredible switch to Juice’s vocal acrobatics half way through in A Man to Call My Own being a case in point. And Yorkshire Fog has a brilliantly ‘whither my lady?’ air; all those shushes, sighs and purrs from Juice adding considerable charm. Overall it’s like falling into the drink after a sesh at a seaside pub. This record is brilliant, but bloody heck it’s a bracing listen.
*Alf or Robyn, it matters not.