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HOMESPUN Short Stories From East Yorkshire
(2008)

Homespun

Homespun are something of a well kept secret - a 'bit on the side' for Beautiful South guitarist and songwriter Dave Rotheray. A like minded bunch of individuals featuring Sam Brown on vocals, Tony Robinson on keyboards and brass, Gary Hammond on percussion, Melvin Duffy on steel guitar, Alan Jones on bass and Clare McTaggart on violin and mandolin, this is a bunch of talented musicians making music because they want to. Not for fame and fortune, or seeking to impress.

There's something quintessentially English about the band - from being happy sharing a pint before (or after) gigs, Dave's down to earth lyrics and simple arrangements, to Sam Brown's wistful vocals. No Clare Torry impressions or R&B belters here, just a gentle story telling style.

While Short Stories builds on the band's excellent previous output - Homespun (2003) and Effortless Cool (2004), this time a wee bit of Irish is thrown into the mix in the form of two tracks co-written with Eleanor McEvoy who, since playing support on Homespun's 2005 Effortless Cool tour, has collaborated with Rotheray on several tracks on her last two albums.

Dave Rotheray has always had a way with words and his Homespun songwriting is no exception taking a wonderfully wry and observational sideways glance at life. The band could so easily be a Fairport Convention for the modern generation, but what makes Homespun so unique is the lovely steel guitar and brass work which at the same time evokes both Nashville and the cobbled streets of northern towns in industrial revolution England.

The two McEvoy co written tracks are strange bedfellows to the rest of the set - The Driver (featuring Mary Coughlan) is slow broody 'late night' number that brings Van Morrison or Shelby Lynne to mind, while Lover's Chapel (on which McEvoy takes lead vocals) would sit far more comfortably amid one of her set lists. They're still great tracks, but they do seem somewhat out of place embedded as they are in the middle of each half of the album.

But that's a minor gripe, because each and every song here is an unpolished and multi-faceted gem that only reveals its true brilliance with repeated listening. Beautifully played and produced, if the Nashville sound had sprung up in Hull, it would have undoubtedly sounded like this.

****

Review by Pete Whalley

GRTR! Recommended


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly


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