“I’ve got the new Bemis album for you”, said the boss. ‘Fine”, I said wondering what he was going on about. I Googled them and it turns out that they make toilet seats. Ah, not them, then. Bemis are a folk-rock band from Portsmouth and A World Of Difference is their sixth album and they have been playing support slots to some big names and festivals up and down the country for years. The point of the above silliness is that I hadn’t heard of them despite living in the same county – I suppose that’s the way the music business is these days.
Actually, rock-folk is a probably better description of what Bemis do. On the one hand we have banjo, mandolin and bouzouki but there is also a solid foundation from Dillon Hughes on bass and Nathan Shervill’s drums. Guest musicians include Gavin Thomas on harmonica and flute and Sam Jenkins’ brass. The songs are written by Gareth Howells, some in partnership with son Louis, and embrace a range of styles.
The opening track, ‘Age Of The Paranoid’, is a bit of classic rock introduced by wailing harmonica. As a festival song it’s a great singalong, wave your arms in the air anthem. The title track, which follows, is a little lighter with Mark Finn’s electric guitar leading the way and Dillon’s banjo adding a folky element. It’s a song that embraces diversity and is another great festival tune. Bemis take their foot off the loud pedal for ‘From The Inside’ with its flute and acoustic guitar but there is nothing weak about the song. ‘Wartown’ brings in Louis’ bouzouki and I’m guessing that living in Portsmouth has some bearing on the lyric. It’s also a chance for the Howells to show off their harmonies.
By now you’re going with the flow because A World Of Difference is one of those albums that sweeps you along – catchy tunes and great lyric hooks and arrangements that never get dull. Straight after the guitar driven ‘Keep On Going’, the brass comes in to decorate ‘What You Are’ and keep you alert. We frequently talk about bands who slog away for years without ever really getting their turn in the spotlight. Bemis is one such – turn on the radio and you’ll hear stuff that doesn’t hold a candle to this.
Artists’ website: https://www.bemismusic.co.uk/
‘A World Of Difference’ – live at Wickham Festival: