Parting Gifts – Strychnine Dandelion (LP, In The Red)

The debut album from Nashville duo Coco Hames and the prolific Greg Cartwright, augmented by friends the Ettes has its moments, but on the whole, they’re too few and far between to elevate this grab bag of lyrical cliché and session man licks above the level of banality that it occupies for the majority of its running time. Although the disc starts promisingly enough with the Flamin’ Groovies flavoured ‘Keep Walkin’’, the naff predictability sets in with the lo-fi beatling of ‘Bound To Let Me Down’ and sits firm through a series of tracks that variously sound a little like the kind of music that would be used to score a chase sequence on the Dukes of Hazzard (‘My Mind’s Made up’); the unaffecting-but-overwrought ‘Strange Disposition’; ‘Shine’, which is lightweight, lovelorn and lachrymose, and packed full of downhome lyrical cliché; ‘Born To Be Blue’, which occupies the same tedious territory as the Like’s Heartbeat sound; and ‘Staring’, another track directed toward the ubiquitous ‘little girl’, full of mentions of ‘broken records’ ‘broken dreams’ and ‘staring at the sun’. Such hackneyed lyrics are scarcely mitigated against by a presumably pithy mention of aspertaine, and the whole thing is adorned with a horrible cheesy solo.

More positively, ‘Don’t Stop’ kicks out the jams in engaging and thermaturge style as restless layers of fuzz and wah float atop a driving rhythm, while ‘Don’t Hurt Me Now’ finds the duo lurching into Revellions territory, for a spot of well aimed Farfisa-infused psychosis that hits sthe spot despite more clichéd lyrics. Although the piano driven glam ballad ‘Sleepy City’ brings to mind an Ayesha Brough b-side, the track engages momentarily before it suddenly starts fading out, apparently halfway through.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of lesser numbers that avoid such excision as attempts at emotive soul fail to tug on anything resembling a heartstring – ‘My Baby Tonight’ emerges as a sexless attempt at seduction that sounds as if it was produced by a group of cynical session men whose only remaining idea is nostalgia. Similarly ‘Hanna’ evokes the past so effectively that it sound a lot like something that may have been discovered on a studio floor after 45 years or so, and ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Like This’ is the kind of reflective ballad where towns pull one down and everything is blue – it could have been written for Smokie.

Oddly for a title track, ‘Strychnine Dandelion’ is by some length the worst track on the album that bears its name, being part Vic Reeves pub-style karaoke, part diabetes hazard. Strings swirl, Cartwright gurgles like Joe Cocker. The valedictory track ‘This House Ain’t A Home’ gives every impression of having been selected from a box marked ‘Obligatory Semi-Acoustic Album Closers (Various)’.


Originally posted 2011-03-20 17:10:52. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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