STYLE: Rock RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 170009-26884 LABEL: Independent FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1
Reviewed by John Cheek
When this album was first released by Accrington-based singer/songwriter John James Bruce he used the name phonicscene but now he's wisely reverted to his real name. John was previously part of the Christian punk act The Irreverents and here offers a dark, gothic look at everyday life which occasionally echoes the themes of a Flannery O'Connor novel. Where much rock 'n' roll is about escapism - "Born To Run" and all that - but Mr Bruce's muse is closer to home. Here are lyrical concerns which reflect the ordinary world of slippers, tea, biscuits and visits to Chester Zoo, always within the context of faith. John's is a big voice: bizarre, surreal and anarchic, a voice reminiscent of Ian Curtis of Joy Division, of Nick Cave (of the Bad Seeds). When Lucy Lonsdale joins on backing-vocals, she reminds me of Patti Smith. The latter's outsider approach to faith is possibly an influence on several songs here. "What - if - God is smiling on us?/What - if - the joy of God is resting on us?" Bruce's bluesy, cow-punk sound is deliberately lo-fi and the listener is often treated to the chord-changes on his guitar-playing, close-up. Many songs progress along, before suddenly building to crescendo; the title-track, for example. John's guitar, bass and ukulele playing are quietly excellent. At 14 tracks, this collection is perhaps a song or two too long. But there's still plenty here to draw you in.
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