Although this album has been kicking around since last year it’s getting a push as one of the tracks, Song For The Dead has bagged a place as the theme song for a new BBC comedy, Whites. Good enough reason to wheel it out and enjoy its eclectic mix of English pastoral and baroque rock settings. Wolfe’s story is fairly unique in itself. Full name Alexander Gordon de Menthon, a scion of a French aristocrat he funded this album through selling a family heirloom, a Rembrandt sketch, not often that happens.
Anyway, the result was an album that pulls in influences that include the likes of Tom Waits and Neil Young but the overall influences are English artists such as Paul Weller and even Peter Skellern. The Weller trick of fusing pastoral sounds with frighteningly good turbo charged guitar is given a good airing on the second song, Lazybones while the lengthy closer Stuck Under September is a close cousin to The Jam’s English Rose. The mellow Till Your Ship Comes In has shades of Nick drake particularly in the string accompaniment. While the overall feel of the album is of a wintry melancholia there are moments such as Teabags in Ashtrays which has wonderfully eccentric feel with Hawaiian guitar and merry go round circus music blending into a dizzying mix. The song that the Beeb is using, Song For The dead struts proudly sounding like a long lost Kinks song although Wolfe’s estuary English might not be his everyday voice one suspects. There are other joys, Empty Morning is a mournful lament with brass accompaniment reminiscent of Peter Skellern while This Submarine brings to mind folk rock experiments by the likes of Roy Harper and Michael Chapman from many moons ago.
A minor classic that might enjoy resurgence thanks to the BBC.
Listen to Lazeybones