If there’s one thing to know about Essex, it’s that we’re a county that is very passionate about our music; be that producing and promoting our own music, or supporting other musicians and singers. It’s this supportive ethos that has led husband and wife team, Jamie and Jennie Williams to set up the Acoustic Soul Club. This is a monthly music night, held at St Annes Castle in Great Leighs, to give a platform to both new and experienced acts, and it seems involve them in the local community too.
The latest Acoustic Soul Club project is a Charity Album, to raise funds for J’s Hospice, a local charity which aims to provide respite care for young adults with life limiting conditions. The album features four star acts, and a variety of local male/female solo singers, and bands, that have each contributed one track to the recording. The album kicks off with star turn number one, Andy Fairweather Low, who’s worked with a whole host of top names, including Bob Dylan, Elton John, and Mary J Blige. His solo track, is the chilled traditional folk song ‘Travellin’ Light’, which is swiftly followed by old school ska/punk cover ‘Down In The Tube Station At Midnight’ by Ade Edmondson’s band, The Bad Shepherds, and the reflective ‘First Leaves Of Autumn’ by star act number two, Gallagher and Lyle. The fourth, and final star turn, is perhaps the most memorable, and comes from Fargo. I’ve never heard anything quite like their song ‘Pussy, Pussy, Pussy’ before, and it certainly adds a different vibe to the CD. I can only describe it as a cross between a swing track, a tune you’d here at a country show, and a kids TV sing-along song.
The remainder of the tracks on the album have been contributed by local artists, the end result of which is an interesting mix of imagery, mystical melodies, melancholy moods, and acoustic/folk styling. The first attention grabber came early on in the mix, with the White Gospel track ‘The Love Affair’. This had a very catchy beat throughout, interesting lyrics, and a strong rhythmic arrangement. Soon after, Navacross provided another album highlight with ‘Let It Roll’. I enjoyed the imagery that came across in the lyrics here, and the lead vocalist has a great tone to his voice. The bands did a very good job of standing out here, with another good effort coming from multiple guitar owners ‘The Gentlemen of IO’, and their complex, charming, yet slightly Elizabethan style, ‘Wood For The Trees’, this was joined by the well written and produced blues track ‘Ain’t Nobodies Business’ by The Heaters. I also have to give mention to acoustic/indie act ‘Urban Reverb’, who’s track ‘What If’, with its beautifully blended vocals, provides one of the most ‘current’ tracks on the CD. For me, the solo singers didn’t do as good a job of standing out from the crowd, and aside from a few pure, soulful female vocals, it was a case of ‘heard it all before’, with one exception. I end this review with a salute to the comedic genius that is Dave Stannard, who’s track ‘Clean Living Boy’ should really win an award for originality and humour. Although the music starts off quite slow, the beat soon comes to the fore, in a catchy, rocky fashion. This is layered under a fast paced vocal, and some great lyrics, with more than a few references to cleaning products. A thoroughly enjoyable track!
If I’m honest, I have come across an awful lot of acoustic music in my time as a reviewer, and have found quite a bit of it samey, dull, and way too mellow for my tastes. I like a strong melody, a depth of emotion, a good beat, and some interesting lyrics, and I’m pleased to say in some places, this CD provided all those things. I wouldn’t say I’m a complete convert to acoustic/folk/blues music after listening to this, but when the genre’s good, it is very very good.
The CD is available now from Amazon. To find out more about the Acoustic Soul Club visit them online @ www.myspace.com/acousticsoulclub and to find out more about the J’s Hopsice visit http://www.thejshospice.org.uk