“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s guest was leader of the Too Pure era band of smoke-hazed savant auteurs Jack (and Jacques) a long time solo singer songwriter, and collaborator with fellow VS fav writer Kirk Lake and is about to release a new solo record called “A Painter’s Life” on Rocket Girl Recordings.
It’s an album of pomp, vigorous noir brush-strokes and deliciously self-referential humour not heard since ABC’s “Lexicon Of Love” (“I was born reading my biography” in the opening track “I Was Born” is a starter for ten). It also contains panoramic views of the human condition by a flaneur and raconteur that is up there with The The’s Matt Johnson. The ambition of the album is matched by hallowed collaborators including Robert Dean of Japan (whose influence is obvious), Richard Glover (Dub War), the aforementioned Lake, John Grant player Fiona Brice and fellow proud Welshman Carl Bevan of the 60Ft Dolls. This is all adding to an impressive list of work with the likes of Momus, Dot Allison, Peter Walsh (Scott Walker) and Vashti Bunyan no less.
I’m delighted to welcome to VS, the warm toned grandeur of Anthony Reynolds!
Here’s a palette cleanser from “A Painter’s Life”…
Song “Have You Heard From Her Lately” is pure Tony Christie meets Scott Walker, full of stomping bombast, with a breakdown that could be Blacmange or “This Is Hardcore” era Pulp. It’s a musically eclectic romp when it gets all moody and Lake starts the spoken word over the evocative “Basquiat In Exile”, coming over like Baxter Dury over Gary Clail electronic waves and Bauhaus shamanic vibes.
At the other end of the spectrum, it’s clear that Reynolds doesn’t take himself too seriously in the song “Welsh In Parenthesis” and there’s a speak-song break down that reminds me of Blood Sausage’s Dale Shaw at his punky confessional best during the song “Billy Joel” and there’s a vaudeville cabaret to the song that is like David Devant singing PJ Harvey’s “Let England Shake” (except Welsh obvs)
Basically “A Painter’s Life” is a wild ride, impressionistic, abstract, high on vocal technique and broad in sweep, you won’t be able to keep De Stijl.
I was intrigued to find out what music makes him tick, so without further ado here’s Anthony’s “song for ewe”…
‘Louise McGee’ is a song by Shop Girls. Shop Girls is basically James P Davies, a chap from Cardiff. I know him a bit. This song was recorded over a year ago – produced by one of the chaps from Super Furry Animals- but remains unreleased and unpublished asides from this Soundcloud upload. Not only do I love this song but it makes me think about the context of music.
Whether you like it or not, I think anyone could agree that this is a fine song. I think it’s a great song, beautifully performed and recorded but…so what? Why haven’t you heard it before? Why isn’t it on the radio? Why isn’t James signed or published? Is a song finished if no one ever hears it? I guess because this song is available only as a stream it’s hard for a listener to take ownership of it.
How many holy songs are born into a void? Is it enough for a song to be beautiful? What’s the angle? How are we gonna’ sell it? What’s the context? Obviously I know James slightly and I think he’s a real talent who needs a break but it’s fascinating to me how much gorgeous music gets lost. Take the ‘Lewis’ albums – Romantic Times and L’Amour. Like most people I only heard them when Light in the Attic released them a few years ago. To think that they lay in a box in a garage all those decades…Anyway. My refracted bitterness asides…
‘Louise McGee’ is a honey.
Something like this would usually be a bit twee for my tastes but for whatever reason it gets me. There’s a yearning and purity to it. The lyrics have that old English vernacular going on. It’s rare a song can get away with using ‘Thee’ in the lyric but because James is a Rum soaked, landlocked sailor it doesn’t sound naff. Then you’ve got the temp changes. It’s a song that’s aware of itself, it’s not just chugging along. Eyes wide open. The guitar solo echoes the vocal melody. Corny but great. The harmonies. I imagine this is what early Orange Juice sounded like? (I’ve never listened). It’s a rush. 3 minutes 59 seconds of pure right. It makes my thighs flex with pleasure. ‘Nail me to the sand’…
THANKS VERY MUCH TO ANTHONY REYNOLDS AND TO SEAN NEWSHAM AT MUTANTE.
Anthony Reynolds “A Painter’s Life” is released on 2nd August on Rocket Girl
Here’s the requisite links: