SKY JULY - RED SKY JULY
first album from a band made up of Alisha’s Attic’s
Shelly Poole, Ally McErlaine from Texas (the band, not the state)
and American singer Charity Hair – my new favourite rock
star name. It’s not particularly like any of the work they’ve
done before, though snippets will remind you of Alisha’s
Attic’s combination of cool harmonies, acoustic pop and
acerbic lyrics, while the country vibe could be where Texas would’ve
gone if Sharleen Spiteri hadn’t been so obsessed with being
a cool celebrity pop star and having laughable hip-hop remixes.
Opening instrumental is curiously reminiscent of acoustic Led
Zeppelin, and the album continues with a country folk sound, perhaps
accurately reflecting the English-American vocal pairing of Poole
and Hair, being neither fully Americana nor quite in the English
folk tradition – though the former is by far the most dominant
of the two not unrelated genres. McErlaine’s Scottish roots
further muddy the musical waters.
As a result, there’s a decent mix of excellent music here.
The Gold Hour floats gently across your mind
– it’s a song that is effortlessly summery. Tables
Turn has a definite Dixie Chicks vibe – and obvious
comparison, but a valid one. Tracks like Evening Song
and How to Get Your Love have a more immediate
country vibe to them, while songs like Loving You’s
Easy hark back to the acoustic pop that McErlaine and
Scottish band contemporaries were producing in the late 1980s.
At the other end of the scale, songs like Already Gone
and White Feather are simply beautiful
ballads. Green Country Lanes, despite the title
suggesting a country track, is the closest to the Alisha’s
Attic sound on the album. It might sound like a mish-mash of style,
but in fact this album holds together very well.
As a whole, this is a very impressive debut, with a low-key style
that allows the music to breathe and develop. The vocal harmonies
– something Shelly Poole has plenty of experience with from
her Alisha’s Attic days – are flawless, and the mix
of gentle, almost ethereal songs and more upbeat numbers is a
winning one. This is decidedly unpretentious, unflashy and authentically
excellent. Well worth checking out.
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