SOME WORDS FROM OTHERS
Having previously reviewed Mr H,I was interested to hear his latest recorded project.Over the course of 5 songs,he explores many genres,from blues/jazz to a Pink Floyd style song.With a fine technique on Nylon String guitar and his growling vocals he has employed a good group to put the flesh on the bones of the songs.Nik Turner adds some fine Alto Saxophone whilst bassist JD Williams,drummer Basher Jarret and John David on keyboards provide more colour.They start with the upbeat story song of "Bourbon Street Blues" whilst "Can't help you now" is a different proposition,a duet from Mr H and Nik Turner with some keyboard providing an effective bedding for the song."Old Soldier" is a slow ballad,with a jazz back-beat,"Paint the Rocks" is more of a tone poem,employing all members with some fine soloing on the guitar and saxophone,whilst EP closer "Walking through the wind" has the same mood and languid feel of Pink Floyds better known work,with Mr H providing some fine guitar counterpoint and gritty vocal that is not far removed from David Gilmours performances.In all,this is a fine collection of songs and well worth a listen if you are looking out for something a little bit different.
I've reviewed work by Mr H on these pages before but if you've missed my comparisons,the music and singing is'nt a million miles away from Chris Rea and Tom Waits.On the Bourbon Street Blues EP however,with the addition of classy jazz sax from the Hawkwind man its gone all Sting.I've no idea what Sting (the guy out of the Police) does nowadays,but the sound I'm thinking of is when he made those albums just after splitting up the multi-platinum blonde band to get all jazzy on our asses.Only Mr H is better than Sting of the Dump.
This is real sadness and melancholia.Sting could only approximate what he thought a singer down on his luck and at the end of his tether might feel.Mr H is rock bottom sadness.Don't be fooled by the up-tempo EP starter "Bourbon Street Blues".Its all down hill from there on."Can't help you now" has a Neil Youngy "Love to burn" feel to it."Old Soldier" is Tom Waits/Charles Bukowski territory."Paint the rocks" has those disturbing chords and starts with the word "loneliness" and Nik slips into the vocal gaps like a thief,so I think we get the idea.
By the time "Walking in the wind" comes along,the vocal does'nt start until a minute into the track and we're sat on a pavement at four in the morning with an empty bottle of bourbon.This track is so low down the food chain,its practically subterranean with the rat monkeys.Luckily Nik still has breath in his lungs to honk to the bitter end.
The Bourbon Street Blues EP is out on Barium Villa Records.Check it out.
THE BOURBON STREET BLUES E.P.
MR H FT NIK TURNER
CAT NO BV004
After a long and varied career in the Music industry, Mr. H joins force with Hawkwind's Alto Sax player Nik Turner and it is a beautiful partnership. With Mr. H'S vocal chords matured 'in a whisky bottle with cigar smoke' and some fine acoustic picking and strumming this E.P. is a perfect wind down with a glass of wine at the end of a hard day. Title track Bourbon Street Blues shuffles along with it's world weary bar room philosophy punctuated with occasional blasts from Nik's Sax.
Can't Help You Know is a far more reflective piece with shades of Chris Rea in H's vocal delivery. Old Soldier showcase's H's fine acoustic playing and paint's a rich lyrical painting. Paint The Rocks has Nik Turner in full blown Dark Side Of The Moon territory with some fine Sax and closer Walking Through The Wind is back to more homespun territory with shades of Wish You Were Here in it's picked intro and a fine keyboard underpinning the track.
Mr.H should get sponsorship from Jack Daniels and Hamlet to ensure the rich texture in his voice, this beatnik is in his element especially in a Barroom full of 'Balladeers, Poet's and Cheats.'
Mr H has managed with Pale Rider to create his most rounded and appealing album to date.Calling on the talents of double bassist JD Williams and John David (Love Sculpture,Dave Edmunds) on drums,it is still very much Mr H's show.Leading from the front,he adds elements of various roots-based musical forms including Folk,Jazz and Americana.He adds to the roots musical base an accomplished Rock & Pop accessibility and a laid back yet confident swagger to ten originals.
Mr H is at his best on the brass-fired blues'n'soul of "Dead Cat Fool" and the tough edged piano-led ballad "Angels In The Universe" while the title track,built around an insistant acoustic riff,displays another side of his songwriting talents.
"Same Damn Road" brings to mind Chris Rea's most commercially successful period,with John David on production duties adding perfectly restrained orchestration effects that serve to enhance the the attraction.The pop r'n'b of "Where Have You Gone" moves in the direction of Van Morrisson and although H is certainly no Van Morrisson,he approaches the challenge with admirable aplomb.
Closing with the heartbreak tale "Tired Of Fighting With You",H continues the trend for quality and engaging songwriting and sets a considerable and impressive seal on "Pale Rider".
This third studio release is an energetic mix of roots-fused sounds,coupled with bright lyrics and whiskey-and-cigars vocals,creating a track list of 10 imaginatively crafted colourful bursts.Teaming up with successful Welsh producer,John David (Love Sculpture,Dave Edmunds;Status Quo),Mr H has created a curiously diverse album with fusions of his musical tastes of jazz,blues,roots and folk,and this can be heard throughout the album's duration.Jolly toe-tapper,Dead Cat Fool combines progressive soul-esque trumpet bursts with a jazz-influenced structure,whilst the bassy Same Damned Road has musical hints of craggy blues and jazz.Likewise the upbeat Where Have You Gone with comedic chordal progressions of trumpet and a thick musical backdrop gives the album diversity and musical peculiarity;one of the albums quirky charms.
Another aspect on the album which is perhaps hard not to acknowledge is Mr H's gravelly vocals,fitting perfectly on the record.The piano bar-ish Angels In The Universe is a heartfelt love ballad whereby the rawness of his voice oozes through the piano led arrangement,as well as giving the album much needed simplistic relief.Under The Velvet Sky and Tired Of Fighting With You are two more vocal gems;the former really demonstrating his crisp vocal range against the rugged,jazz-fused arrangenent,whilst the latter is a reflective little number,whereby his preoccupied vocals create an ambient sense of melancholy and regret.
What seems to add to the albums bright dimension is the diversity of themes he uses.Opening track,Marianne for example was influenced after reading Marianne Faithfull's autobiography,and places into song Mr H's reflections on it;the steady shuffling beat coupled with a warming backdrop of organ delivering a French bar-esque type atmosphere.Title track Pale Rider and the simplistic Paradise are two more examples;the former making observations of a vibrant night life and the latter a pondering vocal and guitar dominated number about the paradoxical side of love being a double sided coin;all three commending his songwriting attempts.
Album favourite and highlight comes with the musically rich Born Without You;its poignant guitar-led beginning,coupled with warming ambience,stirring vocals and melancholic lyrics of a lost love gives the track wholeness and capacity to stand out as a gem on the record.An album of musical peculiarity and certainly individuality,Pale Rider is a wonderful little gem and a credit to Mr H;a must listen for those who enjoy roots,jazz,blues and folk with a quirky,creative twist.
Emily Saxton (MAVERICK MAGAZINE)
Cor - three times for a Welshman!.This is Mr H's third album and its a right little corker.Mr H engaged Wales most successful producer and songwriter John David to record with him and its certainly worked.He says:John was an inspiration to work with,pulling on his many years experience from his time with Love Sculpture and Dave Edmunds via his work at Rockfield through to his own studio work at Berry Hill in Monmouth UK.
John has really brought out all the gravel voiced-guitarists catchy songs and they have certainly matured just like a good wine should.I have to say,with other Roots and Acoustic albums,that I do detest having to decipher unclear and unintelligable words,and I don't care whether its the artists or the engineers fault - this is a folk magazine for heavens sake!.But I need have no fears with Johns production or with Mr H's fine lyrics;crisp neat production means that the intelligent verses stand out sharp and crystal clear-and so they should.
The opening track "Marianne",provides a beautiful enticer for" Dead Cat Fool",fantastic walking bass and lazy loping guitar."Pale Rider" leaps out as a strong title track,and "Same Damn Road" might be a hit in an ideal world,and all the while Mr H's cigars and whiskey voice takes total command with a rip roaring 10 little gems - truly fantastic!.
FOLK WALES MAGAZINE
Welshman Mr H purveys well written songs in a Rootsy,Indie Acoustic style with touches of Jazz and Blues thrown in the mix.His all original songs are delivered in a pleasing,lilting and rasping vocal style accompanied by acoustic guitar,double bass,drums and keyboards.Opener "Marianne" is a gentle and melodic love song which rumbles along nicely."Dead Cat Fool" is a soul belter which features a honking horn section and electric guitar as Mr H tells of feeling out of place in the 21st century.A gently rolling piano is the sole accompaniment to the emotional ballad "Angels In The Universe" a touching song of thanks for being guided to a special person.The title track "Pale Rider" is an upbeat number featuring a walking bass line and rocking horns as Mr H spits out the lyrics and the band whip up a storm.The songs are lovingly crafted and the arrangments and playing are excellent throughout."Paradise" is a gentle love song featuring only acoustic guitar and synth string backing as Mr H croons "in your heart is where love dwells".The jaunty soul rocker "Where Have You Gone" is propelled by strummed guitars,bongo's and hard riffing horns as Mr H poses the question of lost love.Mr H paints pictures with his best lyrics and "Under A Velvet Sky" is a gentle ballad which tells of shared pain and loss."Same Damn Road" has an atmospheric and smokey feel to it and would be a perfect late night song in a dimly lit cellar Jazz club at the end of the evening as the last punters hit the deserted streets.Closing track "Tired Of Fighting With You",features a weary and resigned vocal from Mr H as he bids goodbye to another lost love and hits the highway one last time.
I enjoyed this album of well constructed songs delivered in a beguiling and pleasant style which should appeal to many.
BLUES MATTERS MAGAZINE
Mr H retains that air of mystery in as much as his home village is Beulah in Mid Wales,but we don't know his name or his regular gigging haunts.All we do know is that he has a great soaring voice,he's not at all bad on solo guitar and as for his writing-its full of very individual,catchy hook lines and memorable tunes to make this a very pleasing album.I think he's influenced by the Yard Birds:"From Your Love" resembles their sixties hit "For Your Love",and the chorus of "Hippies In THe Sky" smacks of Jeff Becks Hi Ho Silver Lining.But what the hell!.
An impressive debut peppered with addictive songs which will make you hunt out his other works.Mr H could be the man to watch!.
This album presents an interesting conundrum.Mr H is pictured on the cover gazing wistfully at an empty beer bottle;the expression is of someone who's lost a winning lottery ticket.Yet when you talk to him he's a humorous character with a wry and rebellios outlook on life and music.That is reflected in this album which I really enjoyed.Its not an over polished studio production but it is very real music.Listen to the album and you do meet Mr H and a selection of interesting characters.File this under blues and roots,its blues based but carries several influences,I recalled a slightly less gruff Tom Waits (vocally),Richard Thomson,Dylan - there are flashes of Jo Jo Burgess of Hokie Joint (the song Joe Meek in particular),harmonically the songs had hints of Americana-like the songs of Eilen Jewell,particularly on "Wasted & Alone".There is even a hint of Radiohead - like song structure (but more oomph) on the track "45 Minutes".Its not an instant album;the songs are growers;that may be a disadvantage in this day and age when everything has to be instant - but the songs have depth - they've been crafted and constructed and lived in for a while.I particularly liked the song "Freddy Tupelo",its about a character that you dear reader do not want to meet on a dark night.I also consider the opener "Wasted & Alone" a real good song.
This is a very good album that I would recommend to readers.Mr H you are definately on the right track,just keep clear of legendary producers and do your own thing baby.I look forward to your next album.
Vicki Martin Blues Matters
Born and raised in Wales,Mr H's strident powerful vocal performances and deliberately forceful approach to acoustic guitar suggest he is a man on a mission.There is no introspective singer-singwriter instead "H" offers eleven originals-of what he describes as "contemporary folk songs" but which are in reality a lovingly crafted fusion of rugged blues and jazz with well constructed pop songs at their core.The title track has the same dark,brooding presence that possesses the best Verve ballads.The faux strings accompany "H"'s vocal and picked notes are suprisingly effective and offer a tantalising possibilty of future directions.
Theres much to appreciate here - in particular the way he attacks his guitar with raw,almost primitive vigour that causes the notes and melodies to cascade towards the listener in a flood of sound."H" is a songwriter who believes in the sheer,unrestrained power of the song,and seems almost as though he has hewn,carved and shaped those here from the rugged Welsh landscape itself!.
ROCK N REEL