Encompassing wide and varied ....... and beyond
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 'Something For The Weekend’, 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 multi-dimensional ‘Stained Glass Smiles’ 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 well worth listening while Andy plays all the instruments (except for Alex Shearer, bass guitar on 'The Doodlebug Dance') on 'Hearts' Desires'.
Charlie Elland, Folkwords
An eclectic collection of 21 tunes on this CD from Middlesbrough's Andy Shearer. Andy may be known on the live local scene for his guitar work in the 1970 and 1980's. After years concentrating on his songwriting, composing and home-recording, he recently resurfaced in jazz outfit Miles Ahead - performing at three consecutive Stockton Riverside Festivals. The styles on this CD are many and varied - it opens with the light picking of intro song 'Arrival', then straight into a bottleneck deep south/Appalachian mix in 'The Doodlebug Dance'. A jig, 'Something For The Weekend' follows, then a slow jazz influenced piece 'November Rose'. 'Wonderland' is reminiscent of an up-to-date Shadows number, and then there is a version of The Kinks 'Waterloo Sunset' with eastern influences ..... and so it goes on in this very varied offering with each tune exploring new territory.
Already with local radio plays and international internet radio exposure (particularly Museboat Radio) to his credit. Andy is currently working on new songs for his next release later in 2014, but this instrumental album shows off his many other musical qualities to the full.
LiNK magazine album of the month (January 2014)
A Friend for lonely Hours:
It seems to be the heart, where all the ideas and visions of Andy Shearer come from. The English composer and instrumentalist of Middlesbrough has one that gives him folky melodies, influenced by the music of his homeland and the rest of the world. We hear American Folk, Gigue, Blues, Country and many more styles. We can imagine that he loves authentic, traditional sounds ("Something For The Weekend"), mixed up with rock ("Wonderland") and classical music ("November Rose"). It sounds like the singing of a bird in the trees of everybody's home. Amazing, how he's able to integrate covers like "Waterloo Sunset" of the Kinks into his own sound, that we may think, it has always been an Andy Shearer tune.
The 21 compositions of this double album are instrumentals, played with guitars, keyboards, percussion and electronic drums. Maybe there is a good emotional relationship to guitarists like David Gilmour, Chris Rea, George Harrison, Peter Green and Jerry Garcia - musicians Andy surely know and love. His lead guitar work often reminds of the great tunes of the 70's. A dash of the 80's we hear especially in the keyboard arrangements.
After a longer traditional guitar based part of the album follows a couple of tunes with a more rocking sound, electronic and more straight. There are some journeys to the experimental adventure like in "Stained Glass Smiles", that reminds of some great prog rock groups like Allan Parson's Project, with noises, spoken words, sudden changes and long instrumental parts. Some tunes are more funky and grooving ("Song for Anne Uumelmahaye", "Private Dick"), the next more spacey and calm ("Mystery", "Salvadore"), for a few songs Andy turns back to the traditional folk feeling ("Stung Again", "Galway Bay") and then he flies once again all over the world and catches the sounds around ("Pictures of Spain"). The album ends with "The Last Resort", a rock tune that integrates a hawaiian guitar sound, traditional keyboards and classical elements, a musical sweeping blow all over the styles Andy likes.
This album could be a friend for lonely hours, when you are sitting alone in a room and look out of the window, or when you drive over the highway seeing the changing landscapes through the windscreen. All in all it's a journey through feelings and moods, visions and scenes we remember, because we have seen it all before. But it's filtered through the personality of a man who made music for many years, trying different sounds and styles, knowing his personal sound is his heart's desire.
Sevenmileboots, Germany. (Dec 16th, 2013)
released February 5, 2014
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