(This review first appeared in issue #73 of Shindig! magazine.)
Full Stack CD / LP
During the mid noughties when the weekly music press was pant wetting over the new rock revolution, Liverpool band The Stands released two albums that have weathered better than many made by their louder contemporaries, marked out by the songwriting and vocal talents of frontman Howie Payne. It's been eight years since his debut solo LP (Bright Light Ballads, produced by Ethan Jones), but Payne is back, with his sorrow-shot voice still the perfect vehicle to impart songs of ache and longing.
Recorded quickly and for the most part live, the gentle ballads and acoustic folk-pop at times steer close to the middle of the road, but Payne is skillful enough to make the journey an enjoyable one, favouring subtlety over brashness. Go with him and you'll find Mountain has a uniquely mellow and wistful charm, and that Payne still has his knack for turning out melodic Scouse-infused Americana.