Saturday, 22 November 2014

Howard Sinclair - The Light Broke In

One of the things that I love about social media is that it puts me in touch with new people and new music. I've lost count of the albums that have been recommended to me by folk that I only know through groups of Facebook, and I've been delighted to make new acquaintances and friends through these channels.

One such new friend is Howard Sinclair who has, coincidentally, just released a new CD of original music which I took a chance on and bought. And I must say that it is quite a little gem of an album!

"The Light Broke In" is a collection of 10 songs written by Howard or in collaboration with Wednesday S, which are together a wonderful way to spend 45 minutes of your time. Mainly guitar-driven, this is an album of light and shade, sometimes folky, sometimes bluesy, and thoroughly entertaining! And the cover art, by Mark Wilkinson, is quite stunning!

It opens with 'Autocorrect', a jaunty, jangly folk tune which explores the ways in which people and things try to interfere with your life when you don't want them to, and don't when perhaps you do, and features the robotic tones of Kim Seviour at the start and end of the song. 'My Drunken Guitar' begins with slightly stuttering, stumbling guitar picking (in keeping with the title), and has a certain melancholy despite being quite up-beat musically, building to a surprising and splendid electric guitar solo towards the end. 'Last Out of the Valleys' is a song about spreading your wings, exploring new horizons and leaving the disappointments of the past behind you, and has a delightful bluesy feel to it. 'Bid The Dark So Long' opens a capella, in a brooding kind of way that reminded me of Tracy Chapman's 'Behind The Wall'. This is a surprising little song in that the melody of the verses doesn't quite go where you expect it to, though the chorus has more of a conventional feel to it. 'Let It All Go' is another up-beat song to end the first half of the disc, with the added delight of a mandolin solo (or more of a duet with the guitar).

The second half kicks off with the hauntingly beautiful 'Bedsheets and Bad Luck', a cut-down song of simply Howard on piano and a little cello, and Kim Seviour on vocals, delving into the depths of insomnia, guilt and possibly the contemplation of suicide (?). As a counter to this, the title track follows with its up-beat tale of a woman's life transformed by the light of love - a touching piece of work. 'Lazy Sunday Morning' is a wonderful slice of lazy blues - certainly more bluesy that 'Last Out of the Valleys' - with screaming organ and wailing guitars. 'See You on the Brightside' is a dark, moody song about coping with depression. It has a Johnny Cash kind of feel to me, a blackness like the dog itself, enhanced by the droning double bass in the background. The album closer lifts the mood again: 'What Comes Next'  puts its travelling hat on and presses on to a new beginning with confidence and a smile.

Howard is supported throughout not only by Kim, but also by a talented bunch of musicians: Becky Baldwin on basses, Paul 'Gibbo' Gibbons on drums & percussion, Patrick 'Patch' Sanders on guitars, Jonathan Edwards on keyboards & Si Wright on trumpets & backing vocals.

These are songs of change and transition, covering a range of emotions and situations, light and dark. I have to say that, for me, it gets better with every listen. Give it a listen yourself here - I believe you won't be disappointed.