By Andyshades & Us
Tell me I'm not the right audience for Andy Shades and you're probably onto something, but I've seen him in concert and know he's a decent musician who works with others of the same ilk, some of whom are the US playing here. The presence of their sound is more than welcome, because troubadour politique has never been my thing and their input helps me through the opening track 'Making Way for China'. As it begins though, guitar and voice passingly suggest Dylan, and perhaps the lyrics could do with a bit of Zimmermanic feel for the poetic and the mysterious, strewn as they are with meaning-laden names of places and people. Nursery rhymes (in 'The Wicca Man') and Teletubbies (in 'Counting Sheep') are referenced in a couple of songs and two start with a drum-brush walk-on-the-wild-side flavour: these are 'Counting Sheep' and 'The Word' an interesting piece which has some atmospherically spoken passages contributed by the Leeds poet Johnny Solstice; and there's even a touch of Troggish love all around the beginning of 'Paint a Moustache.' The effect of these musical traces can be a bit distracting, like not quite having your radio tuned in right, a strange comparison to be making about a finely produced recording which promises favourably for the album it foreshadows: 'The World Before Tomorrow.' I wouldn't think there's any danger of Andy Shades' fans feeling let down; and if all this sounds like slightly grudging approval - well, that is a genuine and considered form of admiration.