Mancunian Americana in the area! Great second album from Manchester based singer-songwriter.
It's heartening to find that while the major label struggle waiting for the next big thing, there's plenty of great grass roots and under the-radar-releases out there worthy of our attention. Such records that may not have the benefit of expensive ad campaigns, radio pluggers, and buy-in tour support slots, but rely solely on the quality of the music, a small but growing fan-base, and that all important word of mouth.
One such recent album is Good Night Midnight by Manchester's Richie Syrett. It has a lovely, warm homespun quality, was recorded on a shoestring budget with a simple sonic palette of Syrett's voice, acoustic and (minimal) electric guitar, bass, drums and occasional harmonica. Its songs and style are firmly rooted in the classicist American style of Jimmy Webb, Glen Campbell, et al, a bluesy meld of folk, country and storytelling.
Opening track “Wax On The Melt” borrows the chords from The Seahorses “Blinded By The Sun” before Syrett's voice comes in. And what a voice! To my ears the closest comparison would be Tim Buckley circa Happy Sad, a great tone with gentle swoops on the long held notes, with the song's words delivered sincerely. Thankfully he also has the songs to match it.
The album's Americanisms are deftly offset by some of the song's subject matter which take their inspiration from contemporary northern life in what we now call broken Britain. “Ten Past Ten” relates the sorry tale of sitting on public transport next to a tracksuit wearing lager drinker. “Stone In My Shoes” channels the spirit of Gram Parsons and casts its eye on downbeat, on-the-dole bohemia, subtly aided by the additional of some gentle pedal steel.
There are also some fine moments of introspection, not least on “Sway” a love song of sorts where Syrett reminisces of being fourteen with “big brother hand-me-downs and frayed jeans”. It's on this track where a little English folk creeps in with strings and some Nick Drake style finger picking. There's not really a bad track on this album, with each listen revealing more of the its lyrical strength. Well written songs, beautifully sung and arranged. What more could you want.
Click here for Richie Syrett's website.