Sunday, May 31, 2015

Review: Graham Robins, Parish Papers & Short Stories.

It has been four long years since I discovered the music of Graham Robins when I first heard his album 'The Shipping News' but finally the long wait for a new album was over when a signed copy of his new album 'Parish Papers & Short Stories' came through my letterbox. I eagerly opened the package and I must say I like the sleeve design which depicts Graham browsing in a second hand bookshop. He is obviously a man of my own heart because I spend a lot of my own time scouring bookshops looking for bargains. In the sleeve notes Graham tells us that this album is a collection of old songs that he has tweaked, enhanced, re-recorded or remixed. That is fine by me because they are all fresh and new to my ears.
             The title track Parish Papers is the opening song. The Parish Papers was a collection of short stories by Victorian writer George MacDonald but I don't know if that is where Graham got the idea for the song title from. Anyway is is a great pop tune to open the album with. Lots of sha la la de da's in the chorus. It is very catchy and I especially like the contribution of the horn section of Paul Devonshire and Matt Wych. If I was on Juke Box Jury I would definitely vote it a hit. Starting Over Again is another great track with a driving beat featuring Ronnie Johnson who is a great guitarist and Chris Savage is also excellent on keyboards and lets not forget the backing singers of Lee Devine and Sue Gray. Martine by contrast is very different in mood, sombre and brooding featuring Lou Short on guitar. It is a very dark song and makes me want to reach for the bottle but I really like it and Graham's bluesy soulful voice sounds great. Lonely Heart is one of my favourite songs on the album, sparse and effective featuring Graham's acoustic guitar and Mike Adcock on keyboards.It is a beautiful ballad, quite outstanding and to me Graham's voice has never sounded better than on this track. The words are great as well, very moving.I have posted a video of this song below which I urge you to listen to. Elysium Fields is the next track. The Elysium Fields was a concept of the ancient Greeks of the afterlife. To quote Homer in The Odyssey- ,'Where life is easiest for men, no snow is there, nor heavy storm, nor ever rain,but ever does ocean send up blasts of the shrill-blowing west wind that they may give cooling to men'. so there !. Mr Robins is obviously very well read. I love the imagery in this song and the string arrangements of Claire March, Liz Guest and Marion Hill deserve a mention as well.

                                                                             I suppose in the old days of vinyl Walking In The Footsteps Of A Soul Man would be the opening track of side two on the album. Like the first song this is a great slice of up-tempo pop. If you were looking for a hit single I would put this out as a double A side with the first song. The tragedy is though that this sort of music doesn't have hit singles any more. The brass section are great and Sue Smith helps out with  backing vocals. Going Down To Georgia follows. What is it about Georgia that inspires such great songs?. Otis Redding gets a mention here. Richard Symonds keyboards and James Litherland guitar are both excellent on this song. Strong is the right title for the next song because believe me this song is strong. I love it. It has an eerie bluesy mood. The guitar work of James Litherland is outstanding. It reminds me of someone else, maybe Gary Moore and that is quite a comparison to make.The keyboards are great as well. This is one of the best songs on the album. Hold On To The Light is another very moving ballad. A great simple love song which gives full justice to Graham's vocals. Crossing The Rubicon brings this great album to a close. As you know The Rubicon is a river in Italy that was crossed by Julius Ceasar and his army but it means that you have committed yourself to a certain course of action and there is no turning back or as Van Morrison might say " It's too late to stop now". This is another wonderful song in which Judy Garland has a cameo role and Kansas City gets mentioned as well. I'll put a video of this song below so you can judge for yourself. Also I have re-posted my previous review of 'The Shipping News' below because that is another great album that I urge you to listen to.
                                                                       In short I must say that I think this album is quite wonderful, There isn't a bad track on it and in this age of Pop Idol and X-Factor this album proves that Britain has got talent and its name is Graham Robins. You can find out more about Graham if you go here-http://www.globalsessions.co.uk/