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- Songbox by Pete Astor
9/10 Clinton Staff review, 05 August 2011
Is there a better record label out there today than Second Language? The care and attention that goes into their releases is simply astounding, they have released a slew of superior goods over the past year or two but the packaging on this Pete Astor CD really takes the biscuit. It comes in a brown cardboard box, containing two CDs - one the original album and one bonus CD of covers (more on that later) and that's not all - it comes with lyric sheets but, no, not your usual lyric sheet, these are a set of 12 colour postcards one of which shows Mr Astor patting a dog. Second Language know fine well that the only way you lot are going to part with your hard earned brass is to provide boutique releases of high quality and they have these in spades, it almost gets forgotten whether or not the music contained within can live up to the aesthetically pleasing discs. There are no such worries here. Pete Astor, as you may remember, goes way back to amazing mid '80s janglers The Loft then onto the much loved Weather Prophets, most recently reappearing with Ellis Island Sound and with his lovely album of solo folk songs 'Hal's Eggs'. Here we get 12 original tunes, tapping into the heartwarming melancholic acoustic pop peddled by the likes of The Go-Betweens and The Triffids. It takes a couple of listens for the melodies to come through but once they do the likes of 'Tiny Town are minor key delights. Throughout he is backed by a stellar cast of talented players such as David Sheppard and Kieron Phelan (Phelan/Sheppard) and Piano Magic/Klima's Angele David-Guillou hitting drums, strumming guitars, tinkling glockenspiels and parping on flutes and melodicas giving the album a mysterious slightly Gallic flavour which sits perfectly with Astor's simple, well crafted tunes. Like 'Hal's Eggs' this is a slow burning record that slowly reveals itself to be a thing of captivating beauty. The first 300 come with a full album of covers from the likes of (deep breath) Dollboy, Lets Wrestle, Darren Hayman, Comet Gain, The Raincoats, Piano Magic and many, many more. How they've got this together with so many decent names is anyone's guess but nothing really beats the album versions, Pete Greenwood reinvents 'Slip Away' in a lovely gentle folk style and its fascinating to hear The Raincoats doing something truly bizarre with 'This Perfect Crime'. Overall a wonderful package.
George McKeeve said:
Couldn't agree more. It's a fantastic album.
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