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Charlie Landsborough


Edsel Records

Listening to this set of songs, one immediate thought does occur – it would have been a prime contender for a two-sided vinyl release with ones side reflective and one side rockier ! The Stones and others did take that route sometimes. As it is, the listener is dropped from a thoughtful and whimsical song into a storming country rock tune quite a few times. Obviously that’s how a well-paced concert works and as your scribe is off to catch a UK tour date from this star this very week, hope are raised for a great evening by this latest album.

There’s always a place for well-played and thoughtful pop/country music. And I’m not just referring to Radio 2. It’s hard to imagine any fan of say Ralph McTell, Don Williams or Joe Brown finding anything to dislike about Charlie Landsborough. You could call it mainstream music, but that tag is also hung on the likes of Al Stewart, David Gates and Glenn Campbell, fine singers and musicians all. The most striking feature of this collection – apart from the fine vocal work of Charlie – is the evident care taken to ensure that each cut has something different, something colourful about it. Thus the arrangements feature pedal steel guitar, flute, banjo, harmonica..not all at once, but here and there to spice up the songs. The songs are mostly self-penned and sometimes a tad deceptive. Opener ‘A Very Fine Line’ sounds brisk and tuneful but the lyric is actually a series of admonishments..a sort of country Confucius at work. Wordwise, Landsborough eschews anything pretentious especially on his warm-bath ballads to connect with his audience on love, relationships, stories and the like. Sting covers are not likely from this artist…

The other quality factor at work here is a terrific choice of other artists’ works to adapt for inclusion here. If you thought Rod Stewart or  Jack Jones had a good idea of what songs they should essay,just check the inclusions on this CD ! Maybe the best version I have ever heard of Hank Williams ‘Cold Cold Heart’, a driving and utterly tuneful chug through Steve Goodman’s greatest number about a train called ‘City Of New Orleans’, biting guitar runs et al, a tender ‘Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain’ by Fred Rose that Willie Nelson himself would surely like, John Prine’s ‘Spanish Pipedream’ with its downhome sardonic tale and maybe best of all a Rodney Crowell tune ‘Til I Can Gain Control Again’  exemplifying the noble struggle for stability. All arranged and sung to perfection and sounding like they were written for this. Hats off..

Of the own songs, ‘Rivers & Streams’ is too close to the soporific Jim Reeves for this listener, but the crisp ‘Starting At The Bottom’ hits the spot despite the corny background vocals and has the toes tapping and Charlie’s character shining through. Great curling guitar solo here, too.  ‘Windin’ Down’ is another winner with a tapestry of guitars and some waspish slide lurking throughout – you can imagine Delbert McClinton performing this tune. I like Landsborough’s tougher side,his voice sounds at its best set against the Albert Lee style guitar licks, in my humble opinion and it means he can vary his concert setlists, too.

The cracker in this tuneful barrel is ‘Fog On The Brain’ which rocks along with some tapped piano and neat stops and starts and a snaketone guitar run with a touch of reverb…lovely stuff indeed.  It would be surprising if this material doesn’t fuel enjoyable shows

Pete Sargeant

As a quick footnote, one Landsborough fan of our close acquaintance favours ‘A Very Fine Line’, ‘I Could Never Stop You Loving Me’, The Goodman song and ‘The Fool In The Mirror’ but considers ‘Is That You?’ to be a most affecting song on this collection. Hopefully Charlie will get these into the set list.

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