Stunning album Primrose Green released this year. I think it's his second and it is a wonderful fusion of Celtic soul, English folk and dare i say jazz smothered with textured vocals in the van Morrison Tim Buckley mould. The songs ain't half bad either, growers that seep into your cerebral energy tank. Sadly at the Brudenell he didn't have his brilliant band with him but for seven quid you can't complain. What we did get was that specialness of a real talent on the brink of the breakthrough from raw nervous genuinely unrecognized brilliance into Mojo album of the year territory.
He wasn't even on the main stage of the Brudenell and somehow i found myself at the very front of the other room stage with Ryley himself seated a mere few feet away. He was ridiculously young. The album projects a veteran but here was a lad, uncomfortable in the lights that made his unfurrowed brow glisten. Id only gone down to check out the stage gear and on he came so there i was amongst the earnest front row brigade some clutching phones peering at his guitar picking but all intensely interested in this unassuming affable young man seemingly a lot less aware of his impact than we were.
He has that guitar playing ability that almost makes me want to give up. Too good to inspire for I know what he has is unattainable. He starts with a twelve string that he makes sound like a thirty six string. Picking and stroking, at first slightly regimentally but within minutes becoming a fluent poetic acoustic tide that eventually draw out his vocal. So not content with amazing virtuosic picking the lad has a voice too. Rich malleable tones that he uses as a second instrument.
About three songs in he switches to a guild six string and I kid you not he gets his screw driver out, unfastens the pickup and screws it back onto the f hole if his new guitar. His playing then takes on a new level of mesmerising brilliance. The songs on the album are complex but here he strips them down to their acoustic ivory bones. Leaned out, almost athletically formed there is not a surplus moment anywhere. Often they start with a dexterous noodled but tuneful jam and a flurry of harmonics before transcending into the recognisable chord structure of the song.
Album opener primrose Green is about a lethal alcohol cocktail devised by the youth of his home town and like other songs throws up scenes of growing up in mid Americana. To tell you the truth I've not really delved too deeply into his lyrics. They do seem to take second place to his amazing musicianship. I will of course eventually and hope I do him a disservice but meanwhile his textured and tones alone conjure up their own rich imagery.
I guess he was on about a hour, pleasantly acknowledging the sincere appreciation of the crowd. He tentatively walked away before coming back for an encore. As he retuned the G string broke (guitar, not the other as far as i know) and you could feel his anguish as he cried out. A collective aww! broke out on the front row as he thought briefly. " i know" he said, "I'll do a cover, this'll work, a five string version cover" i think it was a Dan Hartman song, maybe a John Martyn cover although that might have been earlier in the set. Anyway, that was the end and what a treat the whole set was. A lad, like i said earlier, at the cusp of his developing brilliance in the best venue in the country right there in front of me. Live Music does not get better.
This guy is at the top of his game. A stunning latest album, fantastic backing band and seemingly happy, at last. In the games room again this time at the Brudenell last Sunday but a powerful, intense set of Jazzed up Folk extravaganza. Incredibly good songs, interesting meandering along a swirl of semi mystic narrative but bang on the nail. Absolutely fabulous controlled Accoustic Guitar assaults punched along by a drummer/Base combo that's as good as anything I've heard at the Brudenell. This lad has the world at his feet if he wants it. He's a bit of a maverick though, anything could happen
The tickets for his Pocklington Arts Centre gig were cheap as well. I remember it struck me how cheap they were when I was reading the PAC What's On guide a few months ago.
Stewart Lee Made a joke out of Pocklington purely beacause he liked the sound of the name. Thats the sort of cutting edge comedian he is and i thought id just mention it seeing as how its popped up again. Yep the lad is very affordable ticket price wise