STYLE: Roots/Acoustic RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 19402-11481 LABEL: Independent 823566029021 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1 RELEASE DATE: 2007-01-23 RRP: £9.99
Reviewed by Mike Rimmer
Belfast-based Brian Houston seems to be treading a parallel universe skipping between Christian releases (last album 'Jesus And Justice') and mainstream releases (last album 'Thirteen Days In August'). The patronage of Radio 2's respected Bob Harris isn't hurting and after he performed at Harris' 60th birthday party, the offers have been coming in. It's about time the wider world discovered his huge talents and 'Sugar Queen' will win him plenty of new fans. Mixing together various Irish and Americana influences, Houston's literate songwriting and knack for discovering the emotional heart of a story serve him well. A strong sense of unforgettable melodies does him no harm either! These days he tends towards the downbeat, so we get songs like "Red Badge Of Courage", the waltzing "Someday" and the touching "The Ballad Of Matthew Shepard". There are so many highlights here but I love it when the Van Morrison influences rear their heads like on "These Days" where the line "Girl you've a million moving mysteries in motion" is pure poetry. "Childish Things" is the one I've been playing the most on the radio where he gives a nod to Van the man in the last few moments of the song. The country feel of "A Woman's Touch" fits the plaintive nature of the song and "Chase The Devil" has some superb bluesy harmonica. In the last few years there's been a return to the supremacy of the singer/songwriter so maybe Houston's time has finally come and he can convert his "next big thing" potential into an actuality. It would be good to see him get the recognition he deserves.
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The brand new album from Brian Houston featuring 11 songs hailed as mature and emotionally captivating. Described by BBC Radio 2's Bob Harris as "one of Britain's great songwriters" Sugar Queen is filled with captivating story songs, some of them moving and personal, but with an underlying humour and feeling of good. Having already received airplay on primetime BBC Radio 2 as well as a live session with Janice Long, the album is already receiving the national radio airplay it deserves.