BY GUEST CONTRIBUTOR CHAS DE WHALLEY
Regular members of The Woolpack’s songwriting circle will certainly know who The Reveal is (or are) even if he (or they) are reluctant to …er…reveal… any more personal details about himself (or themselves). That’s enough of that joke – Ed. But who cares when we’ve got ‘In The Trees’ to listen to? Apparently inspired by a passage in the ancient Hebrew Book Of Sirach, this is quite the loveliest piece of melodic baroque pop writing we’ve heard in a quite a long time. If you remember the Incredible String Band – or even Donovan’s Gift From A Flower To A Garden LP? – then The Reveal might strum a few heartstrings.
And if your bag really is the folkier side of late 1960s rock then you’ll happily let The Chromatones rummage about in it for as long as it takes to come up with a song like ‘Time’. Sorta led by Stroud-based visual artist and occasional musician Steven Hubbard, this loose-knit five piece honed its sound over the last few years at a series of regular suppertime soirees during which they clearly listened to a lot of Byrds, Jefferson Airplane, Jeff Buckley et al – and then tried their damnedest to harness Logic Pro computer technology to sprinkle their own seasoning over all those classic ingredients. Vote them onto the Grand Final and we’ll see whether The Chromatones shine as brightly on stage as they do on DAW!
Naturally we like to turn to a free electric band whenever it’s time to get down and get with it. But the SSC team is also only too happy to fall to its knees in front of anybody who can get it all going on with nothing more than an acoustic guitar at their disposal. We don’t know much about Brian Wilcox accept that he’s bald, has a dog called Ralph and learned to drive on a Ford Cortina. (And lives in Stroud, of course). But, if his ‘Alex’ is anything to go by, then this country boy can surely play. Unrestrained it may be but ‘Alex’ is also a heartfelt tribute to a much-missed old friend and fellow musician who has sadly gone off to play with God’s band at the great gig in the sky. He was clearly a great mate who deserved to have a song like this written about him.
Nailsworth-based Pete Ways also plays a mean acoustic. But on ‘Moody Sky’ he’s immediately less of a strummer and more of a fingerstylist. Which is no bad thing since the nocturnal air of quiet magic realism evoked in the words to this song, courtesy of local poet Shelley Rider, benefits from the more delicate touch that comes with fine filigree finger picking. Pete also has a characteristic – and very appealing – catch in his voice and cleverly knows when and on which chord changes to make the best use of it. Hmm. Nice. ‘Moody Sky’ is a deceptively simple little number but the more we listen to it the more we think it’s a bit of a grower.
Anybody crowding into Rodda’s marquee for last year’s SSC Grand Final – which seemed like it was anybody who is anybody in Stroud – will remember how Painswick rapper, singer and trackbuilder Bro dominated the dancefloor with a Craig David-like banger ‘I Need’. So he got pipped to the post that night by Portobello. But that hasn’t stopped our man from bouncing back with a bit more of the same, if not better! It’s called ‘Save Me’ and if anything sounds like a contest killer from the get-go then this does. Except. Oh no! W’appening, Bro? Talk about leaving your fans wanting more. You’ve given us a 2.24 edit that’s so short we’ve barely got into the groove before it’s gone!?! Do hope you’ve got a longer mix ready for The Crown & Sceptre…