Musician, band member (folk acts The Blackthorn Band and ThingumaJig, plus country ensemble Montana Rain), and now a solo recording act, England’s own Pete McClelland has bravely ventured into making his debut performing his own songs. With a wealth of experience and, travelling across and up and down the States since the mid-1970s he knows more about what it takes to write a country song.
Surrounded by an accomplished set of musicians, some of whom have played with the best; Nashville sessionmen Wayne Killius (drums), Pat Severs (acoustic, electric, pedal steel guitar, banjo, Dobro), Mike Joyce and Tigar Bell (fiddle) on the Nashville recordings plus Shoreham By Sea, Sussex pickers John Rain (bass electric guitar) and Jason Pegg (piano, accordion) to go with his own acoustic, electric, classical guitar, ukelele, banjo and mandolin the instrumental side of things is adequately taken care of.
McClelland’s ably penned songs flit between country and contemporary folk, and though this is no bad thing I can’t help think McClelland needs to work on some songs a little more, let them bed them down into a grove of their own. For one “Walk This Road” could easily become bigger, it has all the credentials, likewise could be said of “Carolina Sky”; warmed in Dobro and fiddle it could not be better serviced.
Inspired by Canned Heat’s “Going Up Country” McClelland ventures outside his comfortable space to write the rockin’ bluesy tune “Marie”; and with it peppered with a bunch of aggressive picking, some mighty fiddle included the album is given a much needed injection of creative energy. “A Kind Of Kindness” is okay. “Those Old Songs” and “Thinking Of A Song” and “Marion” (written for his wife, Mannie) are simple love songs, his weakness for them tends to shackle his music more than is healthy.
I feel if he stripped it back a little and be less concerned on making it sound smooth and totally professional. He needs to allow an unshaved edge or two to rear; his songs would be all the better for it.
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