(4 / 5)
Dan Clews releases his third solo album, “While Middle England Mows Its Lawn” on 31st March 2017. Dan signed to Sir George Martin’s company some years ago, to publish his songs. Sir George described Clews as, “Too great a talent to ignore”, and if anyone should know talent when they hear it, Sir George should.
Clews’ voice at times resembles James Taylor, while his delivery is reminiscent of the 70’s folk singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez, whose 1970 debut album “Cold Fact” remained a mystery to everyone outside of South Africa, until 2012’s documentary “Searching For Sugarman”. That film propelled him to the mainstream he deserved and had been deprived of, following alleged accounting issues at his record label.
With the album release scheduled for 10 days after Dan’s 37th birthday, the Kent-born folk-tinged singer shouldn’t suffer the same obscurity as Rodriguez, with his songs appearing on BBC Radio 2’s playlist, numerous live sessions for Bob Harris, and following a Mumford & Sons set at Glastonbury. Bob Harris described Dan’s sound as “Landscape Folk” – but there are hints of country to this album, yet not so much as to deter the folk fans.
The opening track, “I Am Luck”, featuring Charlotte Bereton and The Webb Sisters on backing vocals, has a foot-tapping country-tonk feel to it. “Stare Time Down”, with album producer Joe Hirst joining in on percussion, speeds up the tempo and wouldn’t sound out of place on a Mumford & Sons record.
“Alpha Crucis”, (co-written by Clews and Giles Martin, son of Sir George Martin), a love song exploring our relative insignificance when placed in the context of our universe, has an uplifting feel to it. Clews providing guitar, vocals, backing vocals, drums and percussion.
With Dan picking the guitar strings, the title track has a more simple production, with the lyric dealing with the horrific murder in 2014 by ISIS, of British aid worker David Haines, who had chosen to help provide humanitarian aid to displaced Syrian refugees near the Turkish border when he was kidnapped. A poignant closing to the album, reminding us that as life goes on around us, there are people still willing to dedicate their lives to help those who are wronged.
A thoroughly enjoyable album which will hopefully see Dan Clews achieve the recognition he clearly deserves.
By Jason Sheldon
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’