CD Review – Charlie Winston “Running Still”
Nu-Folk finds a Euro-Groove
On its release in 2009 Winston’s last album HOBO, received great critical acclaim in the UK but was actually a huge hit in France; where the Cornish singer-songwriter is now based. While his contempories (and there are many in the UK at the moment) have all been touring constantly Winston has been absorbing other musical cultures around Europe and he has now produced a lyrically advanced and very mature album with RUNNING STILL.
The album opens with Hello Alone that weaves Romany rhythms with his English folk roots and produces a charming (sort of) love song for the latest baby-boomer generation.
Where Can I Buy Happiness? Has haunted me from my first listening; as it reminds me of something or someone else but I can’t put my finger on it – possibly early Coldplay or even Radiohead when they knew what a tune was; but certainly something like that. That apart I like the layers of guitars and orchestra that sweep in and out quite majestically as I hero pleads Where Can I Buy Happiness? Ad infinitum.
Somewhere in the middle Winston drops all of the theatrical backing and with just the aid of a piano performs the spine tingling She Went Quietly with concert perfection. Personally I’d like to have heard a lot more like this.
This is followed by Unlike Me and Until You’re Satisfied which both sound a bit like Terence Trent D’Arby fronting the White Stripes!
Charlie takes to the piano again with Making Yourself So Lonely but this time he has a Jazzy drummer and bass player accompanying him on a sparse production that suits his languid singing style.
Rocking in the Suburbs is sort of what it says on the tin, as Winston and his band ‘go crazy!’ in a Ben Folds Five style; but it doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the album; even the other faster tracks.
The best is left for last (in my humble opinion) – Lift Me Gently has Winston sounding like he’s desperately trying to hold back tears on this very lyrically clever song about the end of an affair with only a simple Spanish guitar accompanist.
Well there you have it; this is an album in three parts – each with their own merits. I loved the simpler arrangements but I’m sure the young people who are buying records by Mumford and Sons, Ed Sheeran et al in their barrow loads will love the rockier tracks and there is even some Euro-folk for his existing fan base.
Released January 28th 2013