I like almost everything about the debut album from Beyond The Fields. They are a trans-European Celtic-rock band now based in Switzerland featuring a fairly conventional guitar/bass/drums line up with fiddle and mandolin doing the decorating. All the songs are written by lead singer Andre Bollier except Alastair Hulett’s ‘Blue Murder’.
Instrumentally, the band shows a lot of imagination and quite a lot of that is down to Marcel Bollier’s part in the arrangements. I love the reggae edge on ‘The Artist’s Song’, the gypsy violin on ‘Home’ and the dynamicism of ‘Blue Murder’. The original songs are good but now I must confront the one thing I don’t like: Andre’s voice. It reminds me of someone but I can’t quite place who. It is terribly mannered: a nasal punk snarl with all the gravel that Tom Waits couldn’t use, mangling pronunciation in an effort to sound ‘street’.
When he holds the bad habits in check he does a decent job and I go back to ‘Blue Murder’ again. Perhaps because he’s singing someone else’s words he’s more controlled but he almost manages it on ‘Any Time’, too. Here’s the thing: in 2103 Beyond The Fields posted videos of a live show. The line-up was different but the instrumentation is the same and it sounded, well, better. What happened?
So: I like the songs and I like the playing but Andre’s voice continues to spoil the effect. There is no law that dictates that the songwriter has to sing the songs: I heard a rumour that Robbie Robertson’s mic was turned off when The Band were on stage.
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Artists’ website: beyondthefields.com