AMIT DATTANI – Santiago (own label AD001)

SantiagoOne half of the Mellow Peaches, Amit Dattani, will release his debut solo Long-Player on March 4th. While much of the Peaches’ output is somewhere in the country-blues vein, it is not too surprising that Santiago, Dattani’s solo offering, is not too different.

Eight out of the album’s ten tracks are originals and provide something of a snapshot into Dattani’s inner self. We are presented with childhood memories in the poetic lyricism of ‘Boats And Trains’, the bittersweet feelings of relocating to Birmingham in ‘Home’ (with Davy Graham-esque guitar runs and all) and through his playful instrumental, ’Izzy’, dedicated to his German Shepherd.

The title track opens the disc and its melodic beauty sets the tone for the rest of the album; echoing through other standouts ‘Charcoal’, ‘Hummingbird’ and ‘Raise The Dead’; wonderfully fingerpicked in the Piedmont style, honed by Mississippi John Hurt et al.

It is this influence of country-blues musicians and performers from Hurt’s era which really seem to define this recording and the inclusion of traditional works, ‘Swing and Turn Jubilee’ and turn of the century hymn, ‘Will The Circle Be Unbroken’, seem to act as a way of taking the record full circle…if you’ll pardon the pun.

‘Santiago’ is an aesthetically conscious recording in every sense; from the style and delivery of the album originals and choice of traditional material, right down to the way in which the album was recorded; straight takes with just Dattani’s voice and instrument telling the story.

There are no overdubs and there is no obvious ‘studio magic’; it is a simple, sincere and authentic collection presented to the listener as intended by a musician who has clearly done his homework.

Christopher James Sheridan

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‘Santiago’ – official video:

CHRIS CLEVERLEY Apparitions (Chris Cleverley Music CLEV001)

CHRIS CLEVERLEY ApparitionsThe debut album from singer-songwriter Chris Cleverley really doesn’t fit a pattern and that’s great. It’s so refreshing to hear someone who doesn’t obey the rules – every time you think you have a handle on this record he dances away to something new.

Apparitions opens with a short solo instrumental, ‘Transience’ and Chris makes the point that he’s a fine guitarist. Then we move to possibly the album’s best track, ‘The Dawn Before The Day’, a love song with a delightfully natural vocal, almost conversational, decorated by Marion Morgan’s violin. ‘Lesson’ follows in the same vein; confessional with Amit Dattani’s slide guitar laying a strong foundation. ‘I Wish I Was A Mole In The Ground’ sees Chris switch to banjo. It’s an old American traditional song and includes the warning that railroad men will “drink up all your blood like wine” – where have I heard that before?

‘Acetylene’ feels like a random title although I suppose it means something to Chris and the track features some haunting backwards guitar. Then comes ‘O Shenandoah’, taken must faster than the usual dirge-like pace and with some really good finger-picking. You get the impression that Chris could do anything his fancy turned to from his apparently chosen path as a singer-songwriter to a career as a skilled interpreter of traditional songs. Whatever he does he’s going places, that’s for sure.

Dai Jeffries

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‘The Dawn Before The Day’ – official video: