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Hope –  Andrew Neil (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Music has always been important to Andrew Neil but it wasn’t until he was convalescing after a car accident that he started writing songs himself as a comfort and a way of expressing himself. Having no formal training, this learning by ear approach, which he still employs to this day, resulted in a fairly outsider sound, one where there are no such things as mistakes as there is no rule book to speak of. Consequently it is music which echos with the sounds of other musical mavericks from Nick Drake to Daniel Johnston and from Syd Barrett to John Martyn.

But for all this talk of non-conformity, Hope is a gloriously accessible sonic slice, one that chimes and shimmers around its acoustic core. A celebratory affair that balances the raw honesty of the folk world with the more deftly composed nature of the pop approach. The result is an ever growing, ever shifting scattergun of musical textures, skittering pianos, intriguing bass pulses, spacious but effective beats and life-affirming lyrics. It’s safe to say that there is a distinct advantage in not following the rules, which is made a lot easier if you don’t know what the rules are in the first place.

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