Monday, 30 September 2013

In Cassidy's Care: Reviews: Snippets


“Masterpieces of subtlety and observation clothed in sumptuous, lush melodies. This is one of the great records of 2013. Buy it and fall in love.”  **** R2

“Another little masterpiece has been born. Truly outstanding. Thoughtful, intelligent, graceful and deeply moving music, with every rerun being as joyous as the first.”  9/10 AmericanaUK

“Jones and Cliffe make a formidable pair; crafting beautifully adult, thoughtful and melodic music where Jones' poetic lyrics are placed within gently memorable tunes and lovingly crafted arrangments.”  Elsewhere NZ
“Far and away the most unfairly unsung musical wizards ever to emerge from this sceptered isle. Big on memorable tunes wrapped around honest-to-goodness emotionally involving lyrics." 
Rating 95%  ‘Album Choice’ HiFi News

"Regret, always tempered by tenderness, washes through the carefully crafted, layered music and the precise words. You can't help but think of the story of Miracle Mile, critically feted but often with a phrase such as "the best band you've never heard of" tagged to their glowing reviews." Vapour Trails
“Tumblingly lovely; rather like being gently massaged by feathers.” NetRhythms

“A triumph of lyricism. Dream pop with the grace of a butterfly. Touching, sincere, sensual, deep, brilliant, elegant and devoid of hyperbole, a triumph of noble songwriting and seldom reached perfection. If you only buy one disc this year, make it this one.” Onda Rock (Album of the Month)
“The music and its rich texture is simply stunning. Quite honestly, I have not been so moved by an album for a long time “ 4.5 out of 5  Let’s Get Ready to Rock

“A record of great heart. The duo orchestrate intensely personal emotions that you’ve possibly never endured. It is a wonderful thing indeed.” Roots and Branches

“An almost perfect album.”

Sunday, 29 September 2013

In Cassidy's Care: Reviews: R2: Jeremy Searle

In Cassidy's Care

The latest outing from perfect-pop purveyors Miracle Mile is actually a concept album. Fortunately the dragon, starship, wizard and damsel count is zero, as the narrative arc charts a relationship from beginning to end and beyond. It's not an original idea but it's brilliantly executed. Miracle Mile have been masters of intelligent, thoughtful, literate pop for many years and this is no different.
The songs are masterpieces of subtlety and observation clothed in sumptuous, lush melodies. There's genuine depth to the music and, far from just being an observer, the listener is fully engaged in the fate of the characters while, all the while, humming the irresistible tunes. Trevor Jones's vocals capture the anguish hope and despair of the protagonists while the music, rather than glossing over the surface, buoys up the words and enhances them. There's no particular song to single out - all would be highlights on lesser works.
'Underrated' is a word used of people who are anything but (see Richard Thompson). Miracle Mile are not only underrated, they're so far under the radar they're practically submerged and they deserve better.
This is one of the great records of 2013. Buy it and fall in love.

Jeremy Searle

Saturday, 28 September 2013


Home, 11.57pm, from celebrating our neighbor Des's b'day (44) to find that I've tipped 100,000 hits.
100,001 to be precise. I suspect that about 20,000 hits have been me checking myself in the mirror but... thanks for connecting.
Trev x

Lovesong: Prefab Sprout: Crimson/Red

"I'm in love with Susan, Bill
Her smile is like a fairground
I'm basking in the glow...
I let my feelings show
Let your feelings show
Trumpets come, trumpets go
It's amazing what gets left out in the snow..."

It's great to hear that Paddy MacAloon has a new album out on October 7th.
'Crimson/Red' is actually a Prefab Sprout release, but that seems to be nowt but a vehicle for Paddy these days.
It's an increasingly rare occurrence and is to be celebrated, given the stories of Macca's failing health.
Let's hope that he's not as close to The Lord as is reported, although the voice of God now sports the beard of God; and the songs are indeed heavenly.
I've had a pirate of most of these tunes for awhile in the form of a bootleg (do we stall call them that?) 'The Devil Came A Calling'. There's no reinvention, you know what you will be getting, more of the same. But when 'the same' is a continuation of a majestic run that's been drip fed to us ever since the wondrous 'Swoon' you know that you are in for an aural treat. Unless the songs have been totally re-imagined from 'The Devil...' (not to these ears), there are less dodgy saxophones and radio 2 arrangements this time around. They twitch with lyrical vitality; polished gems of melodic genius.
I don't use that word lightly.
Those shaking hands have definitely been stroking His beard...

Read more about the album over on the exemplary Direct Current site where you can hear a couple of tunes; 'The Devil Came a Calling' and the sublime 'The Songs of Danny Galway', plus a fan made video of 'The Best Jewel Thief in the World'.

The Direct Current piece also shares this link to Paul Lester's excellent interview in The Guardian, in which Paddy talks about his new album:
"I was 28 when 'Steve McQueen' came out, you know? I'm double that age now. Every 28 years I come up with a good 'un."

You can buy/pre order 'Crimson/Red' here.

If you need convincing that it's a good investment, have a listen below to what is apparently referred to as an 'audio mash up'.
It's a bit like calling bisque 'a soup'...

Friday, 27 September 2013

Lovesong: Joe Henry: Our Song/Civil War

"Everything I learned about playing I learned from listening to records"

I've been absent; not really engaged with this blog for a while.
Strangely disconnected...
Coming up to 100,000 hits on this site somehow...
How did that happen?
I notice that folk are still checking in with nowt new to read;
So, apologies about my lack of activity; it's like friends are knocking on my door and I've got no coffee to offer them.
I must remedy that...

It's 3am and I'm trying to love music again.
To re-engage, always go back to the source of your inspiration...
Never a better place to start than with one of the most innovative, yet reverential writers I know.
Joe Henry is steeped in the half light of musical history (blues/jazz/tin pan alley), his values seem virtuous, traditional, and yet he is always reaching towards a new light.
Have a listen to this fantastic interview in which he talks about his recording methods and ideology, in particular reference to his latest album 'Reverie'. 
Henry talks about music that:

"feels orchestral, and then comes off the rails a bit... That was the intention, to push songs to the point both as writing and as recordings, where you would have the impression as a listener that it was literally pushing the seams, and that the song was so full of itself and so full of its life that it was threatening to come apart. I find that invariably romantic as a listener, to hear songs that are threatening to come off the rails and fall into pieces. I was very enamored with all of the songwriters who were writing in a narrative voice in character."

"I knew that Randy Newman was not writing about himself, that Bob was not writing his own story. He was making up a character and following it. I never got seduced by the idea, in the '70s, that the singer/songwriter was offering you pages from his diary set to music. It wasn't about how much of your life you were willing to expose — it was about how wild a character you were willing to inhabit."

Bathe in these older beauties: 'Our Song' and 'Civil War' are both taken from one of my all time favorite albums 'Civilians'. Have a listen and then invest in his back catalogue. I'd unreservedly recommend that you go back as far as 'Kindness to the World' before worrying about your investment...

Friday, 20 September 2013

Lovesong: Thomas Dybdal: 'But We Did' & 'Love is Here to Stay'

One of my all time favourite albums is Thomas Dybdal's 'One Day You'll Dance for Me, New York City'.
It's a soulful, heady concoction that hangs together by the skin of it's teeth... just beautifully.
I'm loving his new album, 'What's Left is Forever'.
This was produced in LA by the master of 'smooth sounds' Larry Klein.
No worries that he might bland the boy out; Klein's Californian luster works a treat...
Meanwhile, here's a rough and ready Thomas, video footage was shot at the old church that Di and I saw Jim White perform in a couple of weeks back.
If you are London bound it's a good idea to keep an eye out for gigs at St Pancras Old Church; it's as intimate as you can get. Be warned; the seats are your typical church arse nippers, so be sure to ask the pastor for a cushion to avoid 'numb bum'...

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Lovesong: Jim White: Jailbird

Jim White sings that a friend once told him: "Jim, what you cling to, that's the thing that you had best forget."

Hello there; it's a been a while. A busy summer has kept me from daily sharpening my quill. Enough money is now in the bank to have me considering new recordings. I'm thinking paper, comb and spoons...
'In Cassidy's Care' is out there and, although the reviews have been great, the sales are negligible.
Apparently festivals, mugs and t shirts are the way forward...

Di and I returned to the Aarhus Festival recently.
I played at the opening gala last year and made such an impression that I was invited back as a non playing guest... maybe next year. Di made a bigger impression last year, I was essentially her freeloading fool this time. She was asked to photograph the various events.
And there were some quality events to capture:

Wednesday; the visit started in fine style with an evening meal at the festival Director's home.
Folmer Jepsen is a real gentleman, a relaxed Prospero who casts a gentle spell, creating a wonderfully relaxing environment for all of his visiting artists.

That evening I got to sit and chat with Jim White whose music I have admired for years. Jim's clothes had been lost by KLM (they lost my guitar last year) and he was wearing his one and only party shirt, down which I somehow managed to tip a plateful of salad within 5 minutes of our meeting...
Dinner chez Jepsen is always a treat, as Folmer's excellent wife Anna also happens to be a celebrity TV chef (think Nigella without the pout, and then add personality and charm).

Her fabulous food is a wonder of unfamiliar combinations; curious concoctions of pickled fish, berries, nuts, dried hams and pulses, salads that you'd never imagine. The cheese board is brilliantly bewildering and Folmer ensures that the wine is fine and full flowing. And the following days flowed into a magical musical marathon:

Thursday: During the day we went to see Brian Lopez and Jim White in rehearsal with DeSoto Caucus, this year's 'house band'. Di wanted some candids of the preparations and this was a great opportunity. Facinating to see these two fine artists up close with unfamiliar musicians. We know Brian's talents well, having had him stay with us this summer whilst touring with KT. Jim live was a new kettle of fish and it was obvious that he and DeSoto connected. I was particularly impressed with their guitarist Nikolai, who made his acoustic Martin sound like a Les Paul; a truly great player. Don't be touching his beard though. Di did last year and received a growled warning 'not to make the same mistake twice'! These boys take their facial hair very seriously...
I'm hoping that I can work with Nikolai and Desoto some time in the future.
Their playing is easy, dynamic and quite brilliant. 

In the evening at the pre-opening gala John Cale performed his rarely heard 'Music For a New Society'. It's a compelling blend of homely hymns and feisty dirges that tested the audience's patience and tear ducts. Cale was in fine voice (is he really 70+?) supported by a string quartet, a local choir and his own visceral, vibrant band from New York.
Desoto Caucus supported the support; Beth Orton (who I'm thinking actually sacked the band during the soundcheck because... they were too loud... ), the wonderful Jim White, and KT Tunstall, whose new album has been on non stop rotation within these walls all summer.
Here's a sample of one of the songs that Jim White played; 'Jailbird':

Friday night Di and split; she had photography duties with Brian Lopez and KT who were playing outdoors on a bizarre wooden scaffold.
I went highbrow for the official gala opening with HM Queen Margrethe II and the Mayor of Aarhus. Get me! We were treated to Mahler's 6th with a massive orchestra, conducted by... It was all very sonorous and melancholic. Thank you Mr Mahler for having the percussionist crash his cymbals every 10 minutes or so; it kept a lot of folk awake.
A champagne reception followed during which Beth Orton confessed to me that 'Mahler bored the tits' off her. I was off my tits on champagne but kind of got what she meant...

Saturday, we were lucky to witness an intimate evening of 3 stunning individual performances from a rejuvenated and more confident Beth Orton, Sweden's delicate spirit, Anna Jarvinen and an earthy Al Spx from Cold Specks. They were all backed by a specially formed trio: Argentinian pianist Diego Schissi (who I played with last year), Swedish multi talent Gustaf Ljunggren and Bob Dylan's affable and dynamic double bassist Tony Garnier.

Sunday saw us chilling in Aarhus and awaiting our return flight. As we wondered the ancient streets we came across a fantastic second hand store called 'Soul Shine'. Di and I sat outside sipping tea for an age, chatting with the proprietor Katy and her hilarious assistant June. Katy told us that, in the evening when the shop is closed and the customers have left, the dresses in the shop dance for her. I brought sunglasses for Di and I and a pair of snakeskin shoes that will wow them in Beaconsfield.

We returned to Blighty for a brief break; essentially our summer holiday. After an idyllic few days in Devon, at The Watersmeet Hotel in Woolacombe Bay, we returned Monday evening to rendezvous with Jim White for his London gig at the Old Church St Pancras. I'd gifted my infamous Jesus Shirt to Jim at Aarhus; it seemed only courteous and proper after ruining his only other shirt. He pronounced it 'a good fit, but not my style' and resolved (with my blessing) to auction it off for charity at the end of his Kings Cross show. It was a great gig; Jim's seen some tough times but still retains a hopeful heart and a keen eyed interest in his fellow man. His songs are dark and moving vignettes that detail the exotic bible belt spanning the American underbelly that he abides and thrives in. His stories are hilarious and breathtaking in their candour; often bleak or heart wrenching in their harsh focus, surely informed by sadness and regret, but delivered with wit and wisdom; cut deep with hope and admiration for the common man. Jim got £30 for the shirt by the way; about a quarter of what I paid for it 20 years ago. I nearly brought it back but decided it was best to let it continue on its new journey. I met the new owner and he committed to keeping me posted. I'd like to think that it will be re-energised by its freedom; maybe it might have a story akin to that accordion in Annie Proulx's 'Accordian Crimes'. I hope so. There's surely a song there. Jim put it best: "Hey sir, a wise decision to set the shirt free. As we grow older it's important to provide our psyches with gestures of fluidity.  Letting the shirt go was one such gesture.  I've sold many of my favorite shirts over the years, and kept the faith that the transaction was simply clearing space for something more meaningful." 

Here's The Independent's review of the gig below. 

I think it suits Jim fine, but I still love that shirt like no other...

Jesus Shirt

I watch you iron my shirts
Wishing that I could give
Such care to my labour
Not a perfect job
But a job well done
Done for the right reasons
Done for love
Done for the love of it
Done for the love of me

When you are done with love
I will be creased and crumpled

You have just finished my Jesus shirt
I love that shirt like no other
Yet I’m fearful of offending
By the wearing of it
And yet
When I wear it I am fearless
Out of myself
Above myself
Like no other

I know it’s there
Immodesty awaits
On a hanger in the wardrobe
The face of Christ
Smelling of mothballs
And promising everything