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Kenneth McMurtrie

Kenneth McMurtrie

Trapped Mice – Sacred To The Shades

The cover of Sacred To The Shades is a Dante-esque image of a fallen warrior in dark turmoil, with the hope of angelic relief or aid a possibility but not definite. Perfectly fitted then to the collection of songs it contains where tales of failing to learn from the past and of history repeating itself abound.
Influenced in the main by singer Ian Tilling's acquaintance with Roman funerary monument inscriptions and their dovetailing with his own thoughts on follies repeated generations apart and the randomness of similar events taking place centuries after originally being recorded, despite their grave consequences having been set down as a warning for the future. As he points out, the life and fate of a slave girl when Pontius Pilate was around is unlikely to be far removed from that of trafficked people these days and the lack of progress we've made in that regard is food for thought.
Seeing that point, being in agreement with it and then thinking along similar lines is not though a guarantee that the songs born out of the creative impulse will find you equally receptive. Indifference about the specifics, a preference for things less yearning and the sometimes uneasy changes from yearning to searing instrumental passages (as on 'Essex Wedding' for one example) conspired to require a noticeable effort on my part to listen all the way through. By the time 'The Space Race' began its ponderous start my mind was definitely looking for something else to latch on to.
Maybe the songs of Sacred To The Shades are too mature for my core taste but having failed to reach me emotionally, incited me to dance or allowed me to imagine I'd manage to stay awake when experiencing them in a live setting there are few, if any, reasons left for me to play them much more in the future. A worthy effort but not one that sets the heather on fire.  

Sacred To The Shades is available from amazon and iTunes.

Thirty Pounds Of Bone - The Taxidermist

A shift of focus on album number four as Thirty Pounds Of Bone sees Johnny Lamb broaden his musical scope to indulge in some shoegazing rather than returning to the folk stylings of his previous works.

Consequently the overall tone of the album is far more upbeat than either its title or cover initially suggest. Even slower songs such as 'Your Walk', that bear a close resemblance to the contents of Lamb's earlier albums, gain a charge of positivity from their production in a more "rock" vein.

Cacophonous numbers 'Pasganger, Or The Wagon' and 'The Expelled', on the other hand, firmly push his songwriting into territory that borders on that of Snow Patrol although with thankfully far less saccharine in the mixture. Take that into account along with the almost random sounding brass passages in opener 'The Glass Of An Iris' and elsewhere and the sheer enjoyable inventiveness of the enterprise begins to dawn on you.

In reviewing the previous Thirty Pounds Of Bone album, I Cannot Sing You Here, But For Songs Of Where, I recall being of a mind to be at least kind about it as it was clearly well crafted and Johnny Lamb's definitely more interesting than your average Brit-winning singer/songwriter (I'll also wager that he's heard of Tom Petty) but not being that grabbed by an album and mustering only politeness when writing about it is likely not the sort of opinion that makes an artist get out of bed in the morning. Which is why this time around with The Taxidermist it's pleasing that Lamb has created a work which, for my money, is crammed full of as much emotion as the previous album but where the breadth of the musical elements now employed make it that much more accessible.   

The Taxidermist is available from amazon.

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