Americana UK – 12th June 2011
New thoughtful English troubadour.
A love of west-coast folk-rock is evident in Liam Blake’s songwriting and playing on this debut album. Strong traces of country and folk traditions are filtered through some Beatle-esque edges to the melodies here.
The sliding guitars and chord changes of ‘Heart & Soul’ definitely show off some strong George Harrison influence, but with its thrusting melodies and jangling guitars and harmony ending up something like the Travelling Wilburys play-fighting with Teenage Fanclub. In fact this observational ‘everyman’ ballad is possibly the strongest tune here.
Blake’s often impressive vocals sometimes resembling Glenn Tilbrook (such as on the excellent pop-fest ‘Simon’) and, impressively, shows just as much melodic pop nous. Ever the romantic dreamer, ‘Tell Me Beth, Do You Recall’ is somehow out of character with the rest of the album, but is a wonderfully executed piece of Ryan Adams (circa ‘29’) ambiguity, longing and tenderness is mightily impressive, poetic and really quite wonderful. Similarly impressive ‘Feather’ has some beautiful jazz keyboard touches and atmospheric delay effects while Blake ponders advice from his father speaking to him reassuringly “on the breeze”.
The likes of‘Gypsy Fire Flies’, ‘Sinners and Saints’ and ‘Show me the Way to the Sun’ are confessional if sweet and lyrical folk-pop outings that impress far less if only because its an over subscribed genre and ever difficult to stand out in, although Blake’s soft comforting voice and weaving harmonies are always a pleasure to hear.
‘You and Other Stories’ is a well-produced set of mature songs, and is set to be released just after his appearance at this year’s Glastonbury. Blake is aiming himself squarely at the softer side of the acoustic singer/songwriter troubadour spectrum, but if classic pop songwriting is your thing, Blake has a number of impressive tricks up his sleeve. Ian Fidles
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