Friday, April 27, 2012

STEPHEN HUDSON Everything Electric

The release date for Stephen Hudson’s second single is today, Fridays being the new Mondays. “Everything Electric” is “inspired by the low budget epics of Grandaddy and the Beta Band” but in these three songs I hear more kinship with bitter-sweet, hang-dog expression troubadours like Aidan Smith or Sweet Baboo, who counterpoint compassionate, warm melodies with wry lyrics of gentle despondency or domestic failing.

The title track claims “everything electric / blows up in my hand / it turns to fire and sparks and spits / and becomes dust and sand”. But this is more of a tut and a raised eyebrow than monumental self-flagellation, all sweetly sung and encased in sumptuous synth textures and Sunday church bell chiming guitars. This is not lo-fi but delightfully charming cosy-fi albeit with some deft lyricism and use of metaphor. The final coda strips the song back, demo-like, to just frail voice and acoustic guitar but losing none of its yearning melodic hook.

‘Brian Blessed’ contains a great heresy within its summery drum machine beat, looped guitar and radio static crackle: “I’ve come to tell you all I can / Brian Blessed’s just a man / although the earth moves when he speaks / his acting skills are actually rather weak.” Rather than velvet glove character assassination this is in fact a song of empathy: “I know how he feels / I was shy when I began.” Musically it splinters and distorts as it ends but what lingers in the mind is its easy-going, candy-floss lightness of touch and mood. The rough, first-take demo feel of final song ‘Stick One On You’ is sweetly whimsical but over before it’s started at an all-too brief 71 seconds. Maybe its threat of physical violence is a rare display of toughness that our Lancastrian singer-songwriter just couldn’t sustain? And of course that physical violence turns out to be no more than a peck on the cheek.

Despite the accomplishment and dexterity here - all instruments bar drums are played by Hudson – he seems to revel in mild-mannered domesticity: the single was recorded, it is proudly proclaimed, above the music shop where Hudson works on Saturdays, his live backing band are called The Fiat Pandas. But if his reference points and ambitions remain local and low-key, the music has a subtle, highly appealing universality. Full album “Sleep for Railway Dreamers” (“a collection of sad songs written whilst Stephen was pushing paper in the local prison”) follows later this summer but first there is a launch gig tonight in Lancaster. Joining Stephen Hudson and the Fiat Pandas are Beat The Radar , Ivan Campo and Harvey Lord plus “hooting and howling indie-disco after the bands”. Maybe the release day is a Friday to tie in with this late-night party? I suspect however Stephen Hudson will be clocking in on time at the music shop tomorrow. Delicate but also delightfully dependable.

Stephen Hudson Everything Electric [BUY]

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