'Hearts' Desires' by Andy Shearer - encompassing wide and varied, and beyond(December 30, 2013)
You would be hard-pressed to describe the album 'Hearts' Desires' by multi-instrumentalist Andy Shearer as folk music. Then again, there’s definitely the odd folk influence swirling within the mix. That said, there’s practically every other musical genre flying through Andy’s music. This is music you have to hear to qualify or make up your mind how to classify. In fact, don’t bother - 'Hearts' Desires' doesn’t require classification - just listen.
'Hearts' Desires' possesses a scope that that encompasses ‘wide and varied’, and then moves somewhere beyond that. You’ll identify folk, acoustic, blues, rock, jazz – a list is pointless. It’s easier to say that Andy’s fond of echoing guitars, multi-layered melodies and catchy little hooks that take you by surprise. He’s equally at home with a simplistic, unaccompanied six-string. Sometimes you hear a melodic echo that evokes memories you can’t really place. Then there comes an easily-placed cover that Andy tempts into different, unexpected directions.
For example, there’s a suggestion of ancient folk dance simmering within 'The Doodlebug Dance’, which faintly conjures an ‘Oldfield moment’ but in a good way. Then there’s his take on ‘Waterloo Sunset’, which magnifies the melody into something more expansive, while the delicate ‘Episcopal Hymn’ and ‘Hymn 4 Her’ are equally startling in their unadorned simplicity. The ‘multiple goings on’ approach returns through the complex multidimensional ‘Stained Glass Smiles (Museboat Radio)’ and ‘Mystery’ complete with echoing synths, abundant samples and soundbites. There’s a faint ragtime feel pervading ‘Stung Again’ no surprise given its title, and yes Joplin would understand. ‘Galway Bay’ integrates lilting whistles and pipe effects to give just enough ‘Celtic feel’ to entice, which‘Coleraine’ maintains.
The reach of this album defies labelling, equally its depth allows constant dissection. I suspect it’s tempting to simply run through a track listing in attempt to achieve both. Suffice to say that it’s worth listening while Andy plays all the instruments (except for Alex Shearer, bass guitar on 'The Doodlebug Dance') on 'Hearts' Desires'.
The audio CD is available from Amazon.com in early January 2014, and already available for download from Reverbnation and online retailers.
Reviewer: Charlie Elland