Rather surprisingly (or maybe that should read ‘alarmingly’) given my general indifference to ‘Singer / Songwriter’ material, I actually like this! It’s not an unconditional ‘like’ however, so let’s just get the negative out of the way right away: I do feel that at almost fifty-six minutes duration it’s impact tends to fade towards the latter third. But I guess it’s easy enough to press the ‘skip’ or ‘stop’ button if it does become a bit too ‘samey.’
OK – so here’s the deal: RUPERT STROUD is, as I have already alluded, a ‘singer / songwriter,’ and ‘Chasing The Night’ is his second album. Hired hands were called upon to fill out the sound and the result is that of a full band, rather than what I expected – some bloke sitting on a high stool with an acoustic guitar balanced on his knee and singing pained expressions of lost love and ill luck. (Nothing like a good, old fashioned stereotypical assumption, eh?!)
’40 Days & 40 Nights’ opens the album and at various points reminds me of Tim Booth in his early days with James. Generally, this one sets the tone for the album with a gently rocking and rolling bluesy feel rising and falling. (Already I’m liking the tone of the backing vocals – see later.)
‘Forget You’ has more mono-toned delivery over the top of a looped, stark, chimed guitar and plodding beat, while ‘Take Your Time’ opens quietly with a very familiar guitar line (I think it reminds me of ‘Susan’s House’ by Eels) before becoming more expansive as it progresses.
‘Heard It All Before’ is notable in my book at least, for the kind of dark mood and outstanding soulful and bluesy female backing / harmonising vocals – especially in the latter half when the song’s intensity develops and Kate Peters is given more room to showcase her power.
Slide guitar and thumping drums are the feature of ‘On The Run,’ before, at over six minutes, ‘Sunday Night Blues’ develops into a bit of a Blues (no kidding?) epic, complete with Hammond organ and rock guitar solos. ‘No Love Lost’ has a bit of a dark riff again, but ‘Human Politics’ seems a bit lighter with piano laying over a metronomic beat and vocals at points echoing Lou Reed in place.
We’re now about forty minutes through the album and personally speaking, I’d have been happy for it just to be left at this point. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the tracks numbered ten to thirteen – it’s just that it doesn’t really offer anything materially different. ‘Waiting For Me To Break,’ builds nicely into another Indie ‘epic’ from its more downbeat beginning. Title track ‘Chasing The Night’ closes the album – and is posted below.
Yeah, I was pleasantly surprised with this one – well worth the investment of some time and patience.
(Released through the normal digital outlets on 21st May 2012)