Saturday, 8 May 2010

Album Review - Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou 'Self Titled'

Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou, formerly of country folk band Indigo Moss, release their self-titled debut album featuring the playing and producing talents of The Magic Numbers Romeo Stodart and Danny Wilson of Danny and the Champions of the World.

The country vocals of Hannah-Lou Moss draw striking similarities to Gillian Welch with almost undetectably close harmonies thickening the overall sound. Likenesses to Gillian Welch don’t halt there. A rare husband and wife duo, (like Welch and husband and musical partner David Rawlings), Trevor Moss loans his vocal talents of astonishing timbre, a reedy, strained and strangely young sounding voice; its a good thing, imagine the absolute opposite of William Elliot Whitmore.

I know the band hail from London, but the glorious place where they receive the influence for their lyrics from certainly doesn’t sound like London, or indeed many places in the 21st century. Talk of ‘precious green fields’ and ‘ales houses for peas, mash and pie’ strikes the imagery of the days of milk-maids and clothes mangles. The music that accompanies has not been modernised (no autotune or hang drums...) and tips a hat to its roots, yet somehow remains fresh. The bluesy lyricism and the greenery and countryside imagery reveals the country that they seem to have a profound connection with, but wherever it is, it’s not precisely where they live.

The track Sally Took The Ivory shows Hannah-Lou jump a higher octave than the surrounding tracks giving more of a Joni Mitchell, or more contemporarily Somethymes Why sound to the song with lyrical story-telling delivered with maudlin tempo.

Standing Down with Bob Dylan style harmonica and humming organ sings of ‘pastures a plenty’ in a sort of Of Mice & Men American dream longing to be elsewhere and optimism for times ahead. It seems less glamourous that the dream of the Steinbeck classic; in present time it would more likely be from the London Ministry Of Sound to the pubs of York.

The album covers a range of emotions whether the duo show it through the music itself or not; Moss cheerily sings at least you got a good price for the razorblades with which they’ll slit our throats on the track The Lion and The Unicorn.

The final track introduces rattling percussion which adds a little warmth to what the rest of the album has already provided. The nasal tones of Moss’ voice can come across as slightly dull and the simplicity of the songs puts Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou on the fine line teetering between success and another pub act.

For myself in all honesty, my folk radars didn’t allow this album to sink in as a toned down version of acts like Neil Young, Gillian Welch and Joni Mitchell just doesn’t bare a candle to the originals.

From a real folk and country fan’s point of view, the honesty of the lyrics and roots feel of the music may offer some interest, but unfortunately as a Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan listener, this album blends in with the underdogs and bares no candle to the greats.

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