ADY SHAW – Light & Dark (Piper Moon Records)

Light & DarkAdy Shaw may not be a familiar name to many. He made his musical debut more than half a century ago and has been making music ever since while teaching art to earn his living. He moved from dance music to singer-songwriter and has spent the past few years performing in the north London hinterlands of Hertfordshire. Which brings us to his latest album, Light & Dark, its title being, in part, an allusion to his blindness, I suppose, but also  his choice of subject matter.

Ady is a songwriter who draws his inspiration from wherever he finds it as the track list suggests. The opener, ‘Be-Bop-A- Lula Too-Rye-Ay’ is a superficially jolly ode to working men’s clubs, those former stalwarts of the live entertainment business. But then, the mood switches as he places the blame for the decline of the clubs squarely on the government of the time and I’m sure that I don’t need to spell that out. OK, Ady, now we know what to look out for.

Ady has a very expressive voice that can be rough and ready or light and sweet as circumstances dictate. He has assembled a fine cast of supporting musicians including  and backing vocalists Jill Waterson and Mandy Hardingham who also plays a sweet whistle solo on ‘The Girl With The Golden Hair’.

After the gentle ‘Golden Days’. Ady gets down to it with the wonderful ‘Machiavelli & Son’ and we’ve all known bosses like that. He makes it sound funny but, of course, it isn’t and his deliberately harsh tone of voice makes that quite clear. In contrast, ‘Helping Hands’, ‘Aleppo In Pieces’ and ‘Listen To The Children’ are serious songs with serious themes but ‘When The Dinosaurs Dance To The Blues’ tells of an extinction level event (as far as I can tell) and ‘Bar Room Philosopher’ is the sort of man I always try to avoid.

Light & Dark is the kind of singer-songwriter album we used to hear a lot more of a few decades ago. A night in a folk club with Ady would be a night well spent.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

‘Helping Hands’ – live: