Portraits is the second album by Woolton singer songwriter Rob Clarke. In many ways this is even more stripped down and introspective than his previous collection Long Way North. The set was produced by Fran Ashcroft at The Garage Studios last year.
The program begins with North To West, a short piano ballad that picks up where the previous CD left off by informing listeners that he’s changing course. A mellow, sensitive mood is maintained throughout, with songs that are often dark and intimate. Clarke keeps the instrumentation to a minimum, so that his message comes across.
Highlights include Spike and Tracey Emin’s Blues. Other songs worth a look are the deceptive Our Friend in America and The Heirs Of Johnny Cash which is played in the spirit of Cash’s American Recordings.
However the song that may be closest to the author’s heart is Ball Of Fire a tribute to the Everton Football legend Alan Ball, who steered the team to the League title in 1969/70.
The program ends with a short reprise of North To West.
Overall this is an understated collection that thrives on melodic introspection.
Stuart Todd runs and hosts the award-winning Liverpool Acoustic Live music events with Graham Holland. Stuart was formally in the group Triad before leaving to do solo work. In recent years he has had a successful partnership with local classical guitarist and composer Neil Campbell with whom he formed the duo Campbell Todd. He has also been in the band The Freebies and involved with a number of creative writing projects. His current band is called Three Minute Hero.