Clarity – The Astral Ponies (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

In any normal year, right about now music fans would be looking forward to watching their favourite bands putting on end of year shindigs in their favourite bars and venues surrounded by their favourite people. A final sonic celebration to see the old year out. But this hasn’t been a normal year has it? A bit of an understatement. Bands haven’t been able to get out to play, venues are shut or being forced to operate in gig prohibitive ways. People have become hermits, sofa kings and queens prostrate before TV deities which go by such names as Netflix and Prime! The world has indeed turned upside down!

I, like many people around these parts, would be particularly looking forward to that wonderful musical fixture that is The Astral Ponies Festive frolic at The Beehive but sadly it is not to be. In fact that wonderfully weird, compact and bijou bar is yet to find a way of navigating the ever changing rules to make the pub worth opening for anything other than the purchasing of take-out drinks.

And so, with this in mind, those Astral Ponies have decided that if they can’t play IN the pub they can perhaps play FOR the pub and have released a lovely digital two-track gem, a single if you will, with all proceeds, via a virtual tip-jar, being divided up amongst the staff of this most singular of venues. Or as head wrangler Kid Calico himself puts it..

“Every pony needs a stable, somewhere to feel warm and safe and The Beehive is and will always be a wonderful, welcoming, slightly bonkers stable for the Astral Ponies. Normally at this time of year we would be ordering space suits in preparation for our Christmas shindig in our favourite watering hole, this year for obvious reasons it won’t be possible.”

And so to horse! Or at least to music…

Clarity is a gorgeous blend of folky charm and gentle country lilt, the timeless sound of the bar room troubadour given a modern spin, music from the point where the Mason-Dixon Line crosses the M4 corridor, filled with tasteful licks and smart sonic moves and a tribute to those people who stand by you and give you the strength to be the person that you want to be. Much as the Astral’s are doing for the pub.

It comes with live favourite Little Suzy as it’s travelling companion…or a b-side for those who remember such outdated terminology. It’s a real groover, a celebration of love and life framed with sweet sax breaks and cosmic waves of hammond organ.

It’s the Astrals doing what they do so well, and even through you won’t get to throw some crazy shapes or cut a rug in their musical company this year, at least you have something to tide you over, music both for the most worthy of causes and to help you raise a glass to better times.

I’ll let that man of many fine hats, conjuror of splendid tunes and all round good egg, Kid Calico have the last word.

“So dig deep, support original music and more importantly show some love to The Beehive this Christmas. Ace to be astral!” 

Follow this link to download the song and drop some coins in the tip-jar.

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