The mood in Medway was forlorn in 2013 when local favourites the Singing Loins disbanded. Other projects were pursued and yearnings sated but that nagging unfinished business feeling remained to the point that most of the Loins are now back together as Rastko with their first album, Love, Hate And Twists Of Fate.
Thank heavens they saw sense, this is a very good debut album. The band is led by Chris ‘Arfur’ Allen’s guitar and vocals and the multi instrumental and vocal talent of Rob Shepherd. Between them they deliver a set of songs with vocals and lyrics that span the spectrum of indignant anger to Beatlesque harmony across the album.
Song writing is shared between Allen and Shepherd, the original acoustic, folk, punk nucleus of what has become a highly accomplished four piece with another Loin John Forrester on bass and the well-travelled Steve Moore on drums and percussion.
‘Scars and Souvenirs‘, written by Allen, opens the album in a nicely commercial tone with some fine riffs countering some anger tinged lyrics bemoaning the passing of time. ‘Tiger’ written by Shepherd then follows and all sense of commerciality disappears with a dynamic song that seems to start half way through “And then the windows crashed…” being the opening line followed by a great chorus of startling simplicity.
Allen and Shepherd alternate their songs throughout the album sparring with each other, rising to greater heights and treating the listener to new gems at every turn whilst maintaining a beautifully balanced recording.
Some lovely contrasts; the bleak lyrics of ‘Don’t Be Going Gently’ are delivered with a light dusting of mandolin held together by Forrester’s bass whilst ‘The Road To Fort Luton’ has hints of Lennon/McCartney harmony that builds to a simple chorus message intertwined around a lovely bit of Shepherd accordion.
Coming together after a period of hiatus has re-energised the creative spirit in the Rastko troupe, long may they continue and I shall make it my quest to seek them out live.
‘Tiger’ – live session