Lee Small is probably better known as a
member of Shy (current) and bands such as Pride. But here he is solo and has
presented an album with a yo ho ho theme. The songs are all evocative of
pirate coves with titles such as “Walk The Plank”, “I Am The Sea” and
“Waiting For The Hangman”.
Presumably this singer from the West Midlands had a summer in Cornwall.
Anticipating a tired and cliched trot of mid paced songs I have to say I
have been pleasantly surprised. There is a really funky blues tone to much
of the album and it is probably that sound that keeps this ticking along and
prevents it getting too mixed up in a concept.
The opener and title track is a solid bluesy rock song and sets the mood for
what comes. The little shots of wailing lead are well supported by moody
organ at times and Small’s vocal has depth and richness. Most of the lyrics
are delivered with a subtle sense of consideration as if he is really
pausing for thought.
“Black Bess” actually pushes the blues towards a sort of upbeat Americana
vibe and it’s a nice change of direction before “Walk The Plank” cranks it
back up and is vaguely reminiscent of Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” albeit
The second half sees a slight over use of seagull, and no doubt barnacle,
encrusted intros but the songs themselves continue to be strong. The slow
mood of the choir on “I Am The Sea” is excellent and a nice bit of variety
to an already subtly varied selection of songs.
The closer, “Renegade Accordion Player” is totally at odds with everything
else and combines the sound of breaking surf with some dodgy busking and
even at just one minute still leaves an unpalatable salty taste in the
mouth. I can’t see many trainee pirates keeping that one.
Overall it is strong, bluesy rock with some good variety thrown in. The
vocals are excellent and to be honest this is the best I have heard from Lee
Small. The players have clearly given a lot of their own input (although the
bass is down way too far for me) and this bobs along nicely looking for a
shingled beach to rest upon. Don’t worry - despite the theme of the album
they have managed to avoid such cliched rubbish. I haven’t! ~Review by