Bet Your Life – Julian Shah-Tayler (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Julian Shah-Tayler has made a name for himself mixing post-punk inventiveness with pre-punk cool. And although he makes music very much for the here-and-now, there are echoes of earlier sonic pioneers shooting through it too.

Bet Your Life starts in a fairly understated mood, with unadorned acoustic guitars, and his always intriguing vocals. From here it slowly adds weight and musical know-how, a ragged and rattling beat, a squalling shard of piercing guitar, beguiling electronica, and all manner of sonic motifs that add colour and character to the slow-burning, sultry journey. It’s almost as if he chooses to show his working out as he pursues the answer to a musical equation, laying bare exactly how the song is constructed. But even with the answer written out for you, I dare anyone to replicate this effortlessly cool sound.

And as always, it pays to take note of the lyrics. Bet You Life is about compassion and understanding, something that the world could do with a lot more of for sure. But it is specifically about more than that too. It is about tolerating and understanding each other’s darker aspects and unique proclivities. It is about celebrating, embracing, and even sharing such aspects and attitudes too, no matter how illicit they might feel set against the norms of society.

After all when did following the norms of society ever produce great art or for that matter the euphoric feeling that comes with pushing the moral boundaries?

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