Reviewed by Paddy Hudspith
Something of an oddity this, but an intriguing and rewarding experience nonetheless. Songwriter, producer and mainstay of the Giant Shoulders band is Hugh Vyner-Brooks, a cancer survivor inspired during 2005-2007 to write the story of "a map to adulthood for young men and women" in the tale of another young man with the illness, Will Houston - On The Shoulders Of Giants. Simultaneously his musical juices got flowing and he quickly penned the songs here based on the themes and characters of the book, resulting in this CD as a promotional tool for the novel (or vice versa - it's a little hard to tell!). So, long story short, regardless of their literary links these songs stand up very well on their own, offered generally in a country rock vein due largely to the presence of British guitar legend Albert Lee. Name a rock'n'roll giant and the likelihood is Lee has played with them - Chuck Berry, Little Richard, the Beatles, Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton, the list is almost endless. It would be easy for such a contributor to overshadow the rest of the proceedings, but Vyner-Brooks (not to mention the other top-notch musicians) has plenty of presence himself. His strong vocal performance is bolstered by scene-setting mini-interviews staged with the songwriter and, strangely, his "live" introductions to each obviously studio-anchored track. These fake concert moments (including canned crowd noise) are unconvincing and mostly redundant but, thankfully, just about the only disappointing element of 'If The Rocks Could Speak'. It's a well-produced, heartfelt, moving set with highlights being the powerful "Bullfighters And Mountain-Climbers" (great title) and a touching "I Will Wait For You" sung by Hugh alongside his wife Ruth. Definitely worth an hour or so of your time.
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