Saturday, 23 June 2012

AUBURN: A review so spot on, I could have written it myself

Auburn – Indian Summer


Review by: Donald Strachan

Year: 2012
Produced by: Auburn
Label: Independent

A CD arrived in the post recently with a request that I write a review; although I have previously received a variety of on-line queries, to actually be sent a physical copy was a first for me. I had absolutely no prior knowledge of the artist and consequently had no preconceptions; amongst the first things that I noticed on receipt of this CD:

a very striking portrait painting on the cover by Teresa Witz;

Eliza Carthy’s name amongst the contributing musicians;

the very memorable “Wow! What a Ride!” quote from Hunter S Thompson;

a ‘Gonzo’ production.

Although interesting, the combination of these things did little to help me; I sensed something slightly gothic about the painting and other graphics, I primarily associate Eliza Carthy with excellent folk music, and my main recollections of Hunter S Thompson are the two books ‘Hells’ Angels’ and ‘Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas’, and ‘gonzo’ journalism. No further forward there regarding what to expect, so I loaded the CD into the player and waited to hear what came out of the speakers.

Having listened to it a number of times now I still find it hard to categorise, and in my mind that is a very good thing indeed! I definitely liked what I heard and in many ways felt that I had been transported back to my youth as I found many of the tracks to be reminiscent of some of the music that I had enjoyed so much back in the mid 1970s. Yet this is no 70s ‘tribute act’, Auburn have succeeded in producing an album that deserves to be appreciated as an idiosyncratic delivery of a range of pleasing songs with thoughtful lyrics accompanied by sympathetic instrumentals.

The album is a vehicle for the songs sung by Liz Lenten and written by her in conjunction with Max Gilkes. It opens with ‘Shame On You’, a fairly upbeat tribute to ‘girls’ nights out’ and I immediately anticipated that more pleasing content would follow, I wasn’t disappointed.

In true retro style I can picture some of the songs going down very well in smoky basement clubs, particularly ‘All Come Back To You’, definitely a thing of the past with the advent of widespread public smoking bans. There are no hard rocking numbers here that rely on lots of electric instrumentation, there is a definite bias towards acoustic based tracks. The title track, Indian Summer’, is absolutely sublime and incorporates Latin hints with soothing lyrics; although in many ways it is completely different, I found myself recalling ‘Midnight At The Oasis’ when it was playing. It just seemed to be so right as I listened to it as I drove about in the sun. ‘Day Dreamin”, is a wonderful reggae orientated song, and an alternative dub interpretation of it is also included in the release.

There is a very delicate country treatment to the ‘Too Far From Home’ features Eliza Carthy’s violin playing alongside Rob Lewis’ cello, expertly complemented by the other excellent musicians. Max Gilkes contributes on piano and keyboards, on bass there is Jevon Beaumont with percussion provided by Willy Molleson and Wan Hewitt. Horseman adds drums on the dub version of ‘Day Dreamin” and Maddy Leather, Joe Leather, Joanne Louise Parker and Laura Vane join Liz, Max and Eliza to provide backing vocals.

One of the pervading joys is Liz Lenten’s voice; at times ethereal and wispy, at other times emotive and powerful, but always a joy; it is just so perfect in ‘This Is The Life’, one of the most laid back, yet inspirational anthems that I have come across in a long time. This album came to me completely out of the blue, I have a strong feeling that I probably wouldn’t have been drawn to it otherwise, but I am so grateful to have been introduced to it. It provides a wonderful opportunity to step back from the hustle and bustle of daily life and spend some magical moments.

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