Brian Houston - The Valley

Published Thursday 25th September 2008
Brian Houston - The Valley
Brian Houston - The Valley

STYLE: Roots/Acoustic
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 48972-14546
LABEL: Independent BHCD2013

Reviewed by Niall Dunne

The latest collection of acoustic tunes from the Irish rocker. The first thing that you notice is how stripped back the whole thing is. Every song relies on the staple guitar rhythm and vocal melody, with various backing vocals, harmonica and light electric guitar parts dotted throughout. When you listen through the entire album, it's clear what a good songwriter Houston is. That is the beauty of acoustic music: either it's good or it's not. There are no little production tricks or seducing electric guitar licks to cover over an average or even bad song. There are one or two that fade into the background a bit, but plenty that standout as great songs. The title track seems like a cross between Dire Straits and The Frames - a great mixture of atmospheric chords and uplifting melody. "One Eyed King Of Spain" rolls along like a classic Bob Dylan tune, the raw energy just pulls you along and it's over before you realise what's happened. But some of the best moments are the more fragile songs, such as "Papillon" and "Lay In My Arms". Maybe it's a guilty pleasure, but part of the joy of listening to these songs is how it feels like reading someone's diary. Houston shares intimacy, worship, anger, fun and a whole host of other emotions through these songs and it's well worth hearing what he has to say.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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