You always associate the name Daryl Ball with the folky-Americana of Bateleurs, so it was nice to receive an EP that acts as a musical conduit back to a previous band, Stripped. Although having their hey-day over a decade ago now, occasional reunions have resulted in gigs, a compilation album and finally new material with My Fear of Heights.
Those familiar with Daryl’s more recent work will immediately recognise two things, his distinctive voice and the pop sensibility that later ran through Bateleurs, moving their sound beyond the folk circuit and into a more mainstream appeal. Hanging, the first of two original tracks is a lilting blues pop number that creates it’s dynamic from big chorus crescendos and Knopfler-esque guitar lines. Spacious enough to let the words hang dramatically but with a groove that carries you along, willingly or otherwise.
Human Fireball is wistful, reflective and lyrically dark – chilled and chilling, before a pop chorus lifts us temporarily into the light. Guitars chime away hypnotically, bass lines brood and beats build a cage to keep it all in before the big chords and chorus peddles kick the walls down, only to crawl back beaten and bruised.
The EP rounds off with two covers, Split Enz, I Got You, written by a pre-Crowded House Neil Finn, a song which feels totally at home amongst their own tracks and The Beatles, We Can Work It Out.
I would have liked to hear more than the two original tracks but as an occasional project spanning two countries, I guess it takes a while to get things done. Not only a great EP but also a nice piece of nostalgia and an insight into the past of one of the Swindon scenes familiar faces.