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Album review: Stanley Brinks & Freschard “Pizza Espresso” (FRUK)

August 5, 2014

Stanley Brinks & Freschard - Pizza Espresso coverThe prolific one-man jukebox that is Stanley Brinks returns with Pizza Espresso, his second release of 2014 and another collaboration with singer and multi-instrumentalist Clémence Freschard. Where Gin was a ‘roll back the carpet and put on your dancing shoes’ kind of album, Pizza Espresso is the record you’d put on after the party. The feel of the album is much more countrified and while Stanley’s idiosyncratic vocal and musical styles are present and correct, Clémence’s distinctive voice brings a range of timbres and nuances which add warmth and depth to the proceedings.

Not being the sort of record to hide its light beneath a bushel, the album opens with possibly its best track, If You Have Time, a four-square C&W rhythm with a bittersweet minor key change which floats in like a warm summer night’s breeze across the porch. And if Clémence’s disarmingly vulnerable and charmingly offbeat lyric doesn’t resonate to the depths of your soul, then I don’t know what to say to you, other than you’re obviously a cruel, heartless, selfish… man, whose idea of dressing up is to put on a clean T-shirt.

“I made myself pretty just for you to like me,
I had a shower and put cucumber in my hair,
I could go on a drinking spree
That is, if you have time to spare”

 

Stanley’s wonky bottleneck slide guitar staggers happily through the pleading Stay A Little Longer before we’re off to the station, blagging a free ride and failing to make our rendezvous on I Missed You On The Train, whose harmonies are curiously reminiscent of the Everly Brothers.

Former FRUK Song of The Day Take It Easy is an introspective, bluesy number which has at its core an optimism that burns brighter than a kerosene lamp; ironically, I’m Down cranks things up a notch for an upbeat song about the happiness of being with someone you like.

 

Put That In Your Pipe is a defiantly downtempo number with some good advice about not wasting time and energy on regret while Before You Go is a quietly desparate plea for one last romantic liaison. Shuffling its feet and avoiding eye contact, its hesitancy tugs at the heartstrings while Stanley’s reticent lead guitar weaves its magic around a gorgeous harmony; it’s another highlight of an album which is chock-a-block with them.

The handclaps and jaunty penny whistle that embellish It’s A Hard Life make a poignant counterpoint to a lyric which could only have been written by a graduate of the University of Life (School of Hard Knocks) and the unaccompanied harmony singing which introduces the coda serves only to bring life’s brutal injustices into even sharper focus. When I Lost You is a slow waltz, Stanley’s voice as cracked and sad as a dried-up river bed. I Still Love You is the last dance of two lovers before they part; the bar closed an hour ago and although the band wants to go home, they’ve enough humanity and compassion to see the song through to its bitter end. Who said romance was dead?

On those long, sultry summer nights when you’re sitting outside, alone in the dark; when it’s all you can do to find the energy to crack open another cold beer from the fridge; when you’re musing on loves lost and found as you watch the tail lights of the distant traffic rushing by – this is just about the only soundtrack to your fevered dreams that you’ll need.

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Originally posted at Folk Radio UK (05 August 2014)

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