Simon Fowler releases ‘Simon Fowler’s Merrymouth’(May 10, 2012)
While Ocean Colour Scene takes a sabbatical, their front man Simon Fowler has released ‘Simon Fowler’s Merrymouth’ – a collection of 'folk' songs written by Simon and Dan Sealey, plus one ‘trad’ and an adapted poem from W B Yeats. And it’s a collection that will, without doubt, make a whacking great addition to English folk music. Although there will be those that argue it doesn’t fit definitely into the folk genre, I for one am more than happy to see it there, and I will play it long after this review has slipped into obscurity.
Listen to the faintly sacred, chanting tones of the opener ‘Holy Day’ and you’re intruigued to hear more - and more there is. There’s the move into the traditional although different take on ‘The Trees They Do Grow High’, while complete with startling strings, ‘Sweetest Words’ kicks in with its perfectly placed low whistle. From this point on the music and vocals pull you into this album. Folk or 'not-folk' it's great music.
And it just gets better - ‘In The Midst of Summertime’ is outstanding with its sparkling melody, catchy fiddle hooks and Simon's voice blending to perfection. Without doubt set to become a festival favourite (I can hear distant crowds singing along on sun-soaked grassy hillsides - sorry daydreaming for a second or two). On first listen ‘Prometheus’ evokes distant echoes of Cohen’s ‘Suzanne’ but that soon fades as Simon’s softer, more tuneful voice leads in to the story. By contrast, the mystical philosophy of ‘The Stolen Child’ by W B Yeats evolves (as many of his poems have) into a mellow yet slightly brooding ballad. Another stand-out track is the mournful and stark ‘Mr Marshall’, again it carries a melody to die for combined with a deeply moving lyric.
So do we like ‘Simon Fowler’s Merrymouth’? Yes we do. And to prove it, we haven’t stopped playing the CD since it arrived.
Playing on ‘Simon Fowler’s Merrymouth’ are Simon (vocals, acoustic guitar) Dan Sealey (guitars, vocals, piano/organ and arrangements) Mike McNamara (fretless and double bass, piano/organ, guitar, percussion) John McCusker (violins, cittern, low whistle) and Andy Cutting (melodeon).
Reviewer: Tim Carroll