Sunday, December 13, 2009

Alex Highton - The Woodditton Wives Club CD

Hear The Track Here

As I said, I have had a ton of requests through the blog this month, and Alex Highton is the next in line. Alex was kind enough to send me a download link to The Woodditton Wives Club CD and a request that I review it. Woodditton. Gosh, that sounds sooooo English, doesn't it? Alex lives in the no doubt charming and bucholic Woodditton somewhere in the wilds of Cambridgeshire, also home to Maria Daines and Paul Killington too - although I don't think M&P live in the same village, just in the general vicinity. A nice setting for a singer/songwriter wouldn't you think? This is, after all, the territory that spawned Syd Barrett (who Alex cites as an influence) so I slapped on the whole project to see where all this would lead...and right from the outset we are thrown into the thick of Village Life.

The track that is, not the actual sticky morass.

One of the biggest acoustic festivals in the world has to be The Cambridge Folk Festival, a truly wonderful gathering of some of the finest acoustic musicians in the world. This stemmed from this part of England's unique musical footprint and when you think of names like Barrett, Jansch, Pentangle, the Thompsons, you can immediately envisage what Alex Highton is about - and believe me this is a hard act to follow. Alex steps right up to the plate and knocks you out of the park with Village Life, a surprisingly adept song and an indication that you are in for a treat, albeit an acoustic one. And NO, it isn't that kind of folk. This is a class songwriter steeped in his musical roots, who also happens to be just as good at accompanying himself on guitar. If that didn't convince you, the lope and style of I Left the City, definitely will. This is a track that also features standup bass, brush drums, peeanner an' all - exactly the kind of ear candy I love; some nice shades of Django here too. By the time Look After Yourself it's fairly obvious that Alex Highton is something more than a bit special. How come, I ask you, that a talent as immediate and refreshing as Alex Highton is struggling to make a 'proper album' (his words) - for more on that click on the Get Involved link. How come the RW music business hasn't snapped this guy up? Or, failing that, at least a publishing company? Well, because they can't find their way there, and should they do that they couldn't hear because of all the crap that clogs up their earholes and balance sheets.

What they need is a cold shower, and Alex is the man to do it.

Seriously, have a listen to the quality of this man. Pick a track on his page, ANY track and it will tell the same story; an experienced, qualified tale teller in the grand English folk tradition - and not a beard in sight. Well, kinda. Alex does have a beard but he isn't your normal hirsute folkie that's for sure and I really didn't have to go past the first three tracks on the CD to find that out. I was convinced by track one. Now, y'all know me and my predilection for a good song, backed up by world class strength in songwriting and it was that kept me listening, and listening and listening. I'm a consummate nit-picker, despite my easy going appearance so I was intrigued about this 'proper album' thing and Alex's comments about his lo-fi sound. Alex, brother, this is nothing like as lo-fi as this reviewer has heard, and I've heard it all. What we have in this musician and the entire thirteen tracks on this a beautifully rendered cycle of songs of complexity and depth that will take your breath away. The RW music businesses loss is our gain and needs to be clutched gratefully to our puny bosoms. Alex, come over to Soundclick, there is a massive audience awaiting you who will just love you to bits - ask Maria Daines. Some of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard, performed with jaw-dropping skill (especially vocally and lyrically). Funny, it's always in December that I meet artists that truly stun the crap out of me. I wonder why that is?

Folk? Pppffffftttt. World Class songs. ABSOLUTE MUST HAVE.

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