‘VIP (Very Interesting Persons)’ from Findlay Napier - an album of considerable charism(October 24, 2014)
Possibly more readily recognised by those that extend their folk ‘north of the border’, Findlay Napier remains a highly regarded singer-songwriter, and rightly so. His latest album ‘VIP (Very Interesting Persons)’ is a collection of strikingly styled songs relating the circumstances, tribulations and encounters of a disparate collection of ‘interesting people’. Always a little wary of themed albums I found this one as thought-provoking and fascinating as its subjects, the attraction increasing through Findlay’s eloquently beguiling vocals.
Telling tales about the adventures and achievements of notable individuals from actresses and conmen to boxers and cosmonauts, these songs possess a deep-seated sense of involving narrative with an added spice of engaging lyrics. The dreamy ‘Hedy Lamarr’ snapshots the eventually reclusive star of MGM's Golden Age. Notorious after the 1933 filmEcstasy, featuring full frontal nudity, Lamarr is less known as co-inventor of early spread spectrum technology that laid foundations for today's WiFi communications - you learn something new every day. With its heavy guitar drive, ‘The Man Who Sold New York’ celebrates the exploits of master conman George C. Parker who ‘sold’ New York's public landmarks to unsuspecting innocents, including Brooklyn Bridge which he sold several times, ‘Rising Sun’ by contrast, with its delicate haunting tune and emotive lyrics, tells of Hiroo Onoda one of the last Japanese holdouts of WWII, while the candid simplicity of ‘Valentina’ celebrates Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman cosmonaut in Vostok 6.
Each song looks at its subjects from differing perspectives, demonstrating the art of a skilled songwriter, taking some famous, unknown and infamous histories and weaving them into an album of considerable charisma.
Playing on ‘VIP (Very Interesting Persons)’ are Findlay Napier (vocal, guitar) Boo Hewerdine (guitar, tremolo guitar, ukulele, harmonium, marimba, backing vocals) Gustaf Ljunggren (12-string electric, lap steel, mandoguitar, woodwind, mandolin, flute, clarinet, synth bass, fretless bass) Hamish Napier (piano, backing vocals) Mark Freegard (ukulele) Roy Dodds (percussion, tambourine, drum, drum loops) Gillan Frame and Louis Abbott (backing vocals).
Find ‘VIP (Very Interesting Persons)’ and Findlay Napier here: www.findlaynapier.com
Reviewer: Tim Carroll