There are times when a record like Long Story Short is just what you need to drive the blues away, which is odd because there a few blues tracks included. Richard Knott is a songwriter, a singer and a bloody good guitarist. In fact, the only thing that might improve the album is an instrumental track but you can’t have everything.
Richard’s music in rooted in the interwar period – string bands, jug bands, swing and ragtime – and he jumps right in with ‘Let’s Go To Town’ which reminds me of a New Yorker cartoon. Richard has a witty turn with a lyric and the delight with this song is anticipating the punch-line. He’s knowing in ‘Start Over Again’ when he rhymes “rhyming” with “Paul Simon” and I’m prepared to bet that ‘Shrink’ is the only song ever to include the word “serotonin”. There are lots of grin-inducing moments like these.
Of course, Richard can be serious and ‘Drink A Little Whisky’ is a sort of tribute to Guy Clark as well as rumination on growing older. There’s a cynical love song (best sort), a delightful Latin American piece featuring Hilary Morel on lead vocal and the clever but sentimental ‘Like A Book’. Richard doesn’t employ many supporting musicians – co-producer Ian Cleverdon appears on a couple of tracks and there’s an electric guitar here and a piano there (Phil Caffrey on ‘Dancing Your Troubles Away) but mostly he’s alone, adding bass, percussion and harmonica to a range of guitars including a National Resophonic El Trovador, which I mention because I could take a little more of that, too. He plays a lovely echoey electric lead on ‘No Problem’ but acoustics are his real forte; the title track is a hymn to his first guitar.
Long Story Short is packed full of entertainment and some days that’s all you really need.
Artist’s website: www.richardknottsongs.com
‘Drink A Little Whisky’ – live: