By David Saw
When the sticker on the promo reads "second album from the Martha's Vineyard via Aylesbury singer/songwriter, with his soul searching take on love from the school of Damien Rice and Ryan Adams," you really know you're in for something more than usually bad. And this tedious half hour of ear-offending blandness more than lives down to expectations. Dissect the above sentence carefully for yourselves and you'll learn just about everything you need to know. Leaving it at that would save me the not inconsiderable effort of writing this review, whilst at the same time obviating the unpleasantness of me having to listen to the record. However, such dereliction of duty might be interpreted as shirking. The reviewer must suffer for your enlightenment, so suffer I have.
Like Aylesbury itself the record is blandly functional. Both may contain redeeming nuggets of insight into the human condition, but they appear to be wrapped up in such insipid and uninspired packaging that one is unlikely to spend much time looking for them. For Aylesbury, I recommend the adequate efficiency of the A4157 as the by-pass of choice. For David Saw I propose an even wider berth. Go and pop on some Nick Drake and forget this wallowing brand of melancholia altogether. Hanging out in Martha's Vineyard with Carly Simon and Judy Tzuke has clearly given this man lofty ambitions, but he seems to have distilled the experience into so much aural fluff, whilst neglecting the melodic intensity that made those girls' output occasionally listenable. All in all, this has the whiff of James Taylor at his wettest. And from where I'm standing, that doesn't smell too pretty.
The yearning (or possibly yawning) balladry of tunes like 'We Don't' seems to me less likely to move the object of the singer's affections to tears, as to move them to involuntary retching. Maybe I'm getting cynical in my dotage, or maybe I just want a little more 'edge' from a record. Who knows? And you do almost get the latter with a couple of tunes on here, including single release 'Buy My Record' (not a request likely to be heeded by me) and 'Someone's Gonna Love You' (which again may apply to the record, although I have no particular desire to meet the 'someone' in question). These slightly more up-tempo offerings bimble along inoffensively, whilst being far from enough to warrant repeated plays of the whole disc. So, I'm going to give this three of ten: one because the fellow has a pleasant enough voice, one because he can play guitar credibly and one because, well, he's got an abrasive cutting tool named after him. If only his musical output was half as sharp, it could've reached the giddy heights of five.
Rupert Stroud is an Acoustic/pop/rock singer/songwriter