Especially great ones – not many of them come along. But, when they do, they wrap themselves tightly around your soul and refuse to let go.
Years ago, Steve Roberts (ex-16 Tambourines) was the godfather of the Liverpool acoustic scene – his ‘Acoustic Engine’ sessions were legendary (I even remember seeing a nervous, but mesmerising, Damien Rice at the old Masque Theatre!).
The acclaimed singer/songwriter moved away from Liverpool a while back, but the music has continued to pour from him… it’s what he does. And, thankfully, he’s still releasing it.
His latest offering is ‘When We Dreamed, We Dreamed Of Dreams’, a five track EP, lo fi made, but hi fi sound, with a song so good at its centre, it immediately transported me back to the first time I heard it. Not bad, hey?
‘I Used To Be So Pretty’ is a slice of psychedelic pop that would hold its own on, say, ‘Rubber Soul’… it really is that good. Chugging along on driving acoustic and electric guitars, and with a chorus the size of the Dakota Building, Roberts’ Lennon-esque delivery and wordplay give way to a slippery guitar solo and we head back toward that chorus again. This is a song you HAVE to hear.
The rest of the EP? That’s very good, too. Opener ‘Over Here Photie Man’ takes us back to 80s Merseyside and a time of bands (and heroin) on every corner. It’s bittersweet nostalgia sets the tone for the EP well, especially when ‘The Trouble With Me’ slithers in on a Ray Davies-esque chord sequence next.
It’s a sound and aesthetic that suit Roberts well: his song writing sits him at a table topped with wonderful English eccentrics like Andy Partridge, Kirsty Macoll and Lee Mavers.
‘Everything’s Everywhere These Days’ could be a step too far down the ‘grumpy old man’ route, if it wasn’t for an incessant chiming guitar figure that helps set the music front and centre. By this time, the EP is an old friend of yours and taking you through long forgotten photographs of your youth. “Oh’ the drunken tears, we have dripped into our beers,” opens up Worthless Gold and the staccato guitars fire the wistful lyric up to a kind of bruised optimism.
It’s ironic really, as, if Liverpool’s former king of the acoustic guitar had chosen to deliver this set of songs stripped back, the tunes might never have been allowed to breathe.
As it is, plugging the band in and letting the music flow, has worked wonders. It may well be a set of tunes all about dreams – but the reality remains that Roberts’ quality is still there for all to see.
When I Dreamed, I Dreamed Of Dreams is available to buy from iTunes.