Cherry Red 2018
12-string Quixote states there’s no rest for the wicked until the wrongs of this world are righted.
Another year, another album from Beau; another tear the singer-songwriter’s shedding for this mortal coil, another smile to encourage it to turn. He’s not an observer or a dreamer anymore, though, he’s where the action is, and such inclusiveness makes “Rattle The Asylum Bars” one of the veteran’s most compassionate, sympathetic works. Of course, the “carpe diem” principle would hardly describe the artist who walked away from it all to spend almost four decades out of spotlight, yet if the hymnal pace of “Road To Valhalla” and the righteous, if romantically scented, irony behind “People Like Me” – “join me outside, we’re in the marquee”: there’s a call for some fresh air here – show Trevor Midgley doesn’t seek glory per se, the process of reaching for the fruit of life may itself amount to his ultimate goal.
But death is always nearby, to create contrast with life, and their casualties fall by the wayside, whether it’s a radicalized youngster in “The Only Soldier To Turn Up For The War,” a stardust hypocrite Midgley sarcastically eulogizes in “The Angry Preacher,” or Rachel Whitear whose fate is woven into “The Rose” as a rhyme rather than reason. Still, rhyme and reason go hand in hand when an “s” is pronounced at the end of “Illinois” in “Bugs Moran” – the immaculately literate Trevor’s obligatory history trip – to stress the pointlessness of Prohibition as a means of reducing crime, and the freedom-of-speech cause of the title track can’t be lost on anyone.
The listener must relish the humor of a particular line in “The Apathy Party” because “The less that you shout, then the more you’ll be heard!” could actually be Beau’s approach to delivery of a song, not of a vote, but then he’s always been prone to taking risks. So “The Hawk” with its “take-off is optional, landing is not” refrain is uplifting and didactic at the same time as tragedy was removed from this Icarus tale. An exhilarating album with a twist – a logical follow-up to "When Butterflies Scream" – there’s a record to quietly rebel to.