The infamous lockdown of 2020 made a lot of people reassess things, the timetable that we lived to had to change – be that for better or good. Thousands of people couldn’t go to work, thousands more continued to work but under more challenging conditions and social life was something that needed to be put on hold.
This meant no more weekly meetups, sports clubs, quiz nights or band practices for musicians which lead to the now commonplace ‘lockdown album’ and these ten songs, from Brinsley Schwarz, is one of those.
Some of you might recognise the name from a band that played and recorded extensively during the early seventies, but this is just the man, not the band that was named after him.
Schwarz is a singer/songwriter who, I would imagine, is much happier playing the six-string rather than singing, the songs revolve around strong guitar work rather than running through the scales and smashing the ‘money notes’ in a world-shattering vocal performance, but it holds together well. His voice reminds me of Roy Orbison, it’s missing the effortless high notes that Orbison was famous for but there is a confidence in the mid-range which puts me in mind of the Travelling Wilburys.
The songs are Americana-based and rattle along rather nicely, it’s comforting music rather than pushing boundaries, but this is fine, it is clearly something he is good at and the whole experience makes you feel in good hands.
‘He Takes Your Breath Away’, ‘Game On’ Tex-Mex ‘You Can’t Take It Back’ and closer ‘All Day’ with its Ukulele intro, allows the listener to see there is more to the breadth of the genre than 4/4 rock n roll with an American twang for good measure.
The standout track for me is ‘Stranded’, it bounces along so well with a simple rhythm and simple lyrics that it’s difficult not to listen to immediately afterwards (there was a glitch on the cd I listened to, almost as if the closing guitar solo was pasted together and the join wasn’t quite tight enough) and feels as if it has been around for decades.
Maybe this is the draw to the music, it’s familiar and safe, but by no means a cheap copy or dull, I can see this album appealing to guitarists and fans of John Mayer, there is a laid-back feel that a musician either has or doesn’t, these things cannot be taught.
As always, these things won’t be decided by simply reading a review, give it a listen and judge for yourself.