Tracks of 2016: #12 The Capital

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You know a good song when you hear it, yes? The innate sense of immediate approval, the pursed lips, the nod, the whispered “oh yeah”, the click of “Buy Now” or “Download This”. Something about a good old fashioned no nonsense song when all the elements of what has been recorded clicks with whatever you’ve been wanting to hear; that’s a darn good feeling.

In what I call a “previous life”, advice was given to me to never review guitar-based music as “raw”. It’s like saying “I support healthcare” as a politician: of course guitars are going to make a rock song “raw”, that’s the whole point. I retort now. many years later, how else could I describe “Hummingbird”, have you noticed the lyrics?

It’s not that this track, number 12 in my in-no-particular-order run down, happens to be the unofficial number 1 by the way. There’s been plenty of pursed lips and nods with my headphones in, let me tell you. “Hummingbird” blimey heck should be on far more lists than this one, and very high in the rankings too. What hits me about the song is how it’s clearly crafted but without any artificial polish: if there’s no way around the ban on “raw”, might I get away with “natural” ?

Or a less flim-flam way of putting it: a damn good song.

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Tracks of 2015: #2 ‘Hôtel X’ (Richard Lomax)

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I have an omnichord and I’m not afraid to use it.

Singing with his wry eyes glancing off to the right, as though the flippant poetry of his lyrics are just coming to him through a spirit guide, Richard Lomax has the great contradictory combination of puppy-dog innocence in the eyes and old-soak wisdom in the lyrics. It’s a great way to singer-songwrite.

‘Hôtel X’ is lyrical in the grand tradition of that word. World-weary without the aftertaste of bitterness, it’s undercut by what I suspect commercial radio would demand be more obviously blues-tuned guitars. Here those guitars are spiky and dismissive, countering the tone of the song up to the cluttered, tumbledown conclusion. As commentary pieces go, it’s far more enjoyable (and brief) than anything by Owen Jones.