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Small Town Eyes by Justin Sandercoe

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Reviewed on 6th February 2010.


Small Town Eyes

By Justin Sandercoe

Justin Sandercoe has been referred to as the first internet superstar, because of the guitar lessons he has available via his web site Justinguitar.com. The famous names he has taught include Katie Melua & Cathy Dennis, the former he has toured heavily with, he has also taught with Guitar Institute (ICMP) and written for various guitar magazines. More importantly, I discovered him while learning to play guitar (primarily as all the lessons are at the magic price 0) and was looking forward to hearing his first full solo album on which he plays as many instruments as he can, and gets in some excellent session musicians.

I don't know what style I was expecting musically, but the album is as polished as you would expect with such credentials, with the immediate comparisons being Crowded House or the pop folk of the early nineties. However, the first thing that struck me was the lack of imagination and teenage poet style in the lyrics. A couple of quotes "forever with my soul" ('I Turn to Her;'); "You know that I know that they know" ('I know?') But I wanted to like the album and have listened to it several times, ignoring some of the words and concentrating on the music, trying to find the good side. Much like a parent trying to think of something nice to say about their child's first hand prints. The best tracks are when he is on his own, 'From Katie's Window,' a guitar instrumental, and 'Imperfect' where he plays the harmonica, guitar and the floor at the same time, and plays with a driving riff which points towards Neil Young and justifies the foot stomping.

Unfortunately the over use of strings and overdubs generally creates a bland, over-full sound and hides the man's talent. This is definitely pop folk, which will sell well, if not just because of the 65,000 hits a week his website gets, then because he will get deserved exposure. Deserved due to the resounding success of his website (nice one for keeping it free) and anyone who helps that many people is deserving. Disappointing, but I will continue to use his website, and probably buy the next album.



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