Brian Stone releasing his debut album is definitely a good reason to dust the cobwebs off the blog again – I was really chuffed when he got in touch to ask if I was still reviewing stuff. Admittedly I’m doing so much less fervently these days – so getting a download link and getting everything synced across to my phone felt quite exciting – I could get a few listens in before getting to grips with writing up a review. Also that residual nervousness, it’s a mate’s blood sweat and tears you’re being expected to somehow do justice to in words. Well, I’ll give it a go!
I was reflecting when I first got to know Brian, I think it was at a Gaz Brookfield gig in Oakham, Rutland when we first got talking a good few years ago now – about three and half years ago he and Karen kindly provided me a bed for the night after Ferocious Dog played Cambridge. After that gig he casually picked up his guitar apologetically before playing through some FD, Gaz Brookfield and Leatherat songs – always one to play down his talents – which quickly became a fixture around campfires and then of course stages over quite a short timespan really if you think about it!
What I particularly love about this album is the assemblage of lots of friends to add their instrumentation to the songs – it’s a risky prospect, we’re used to Brian in solo acoustic guise – but this is done really well, some songs have a full band sound, which don’t detract from the underlying tune, some remain stripped back – it’s all done very well (I was terrified to see Maty Tustian listed on backing vocals, for example!). The combination of Brian’s songwriting, the artists’ interpretations of that and the predictably awesome production Joel Howe lends to proceedings gives a polished but authentic collection of songs.