Advision UK 2020
Going against the grain, English artist opts for serrated experience.
Geoff Carne’s come a long way since his first appearance on rock scene to know too well that variety can be the key to keeping an audience focused – or at least intrigued. Unfortunately, though, suspense misfires, so fans who waited for a full-length follow-up to 2018’s "4 Play" EP from Carne’s duo with drummer Mick Hatz were disappointed because the latter retired and the former had to change direction… sort of. Geoff set to release a series of acoustic mini-albums in 2020, but producer Paul Mex had a different idea: to wrap these solo numbers in an ensemble noise and introduces his charge to THE RAW ROX BAND.
The group members, experienced London sessioners, deliberately gave Carne’s material a delicious rough edge that make the songs’ sound grate against tunes in a garage-esque, if somewhat sophisticated way, with clever stereo panning enhancing the rock ‘n’ roll bounce of opener “Are You Ready?” and a few other contagious cuts – such as “A Heartache” which smell of pop. They may seem a bit repetitive in places, yet it’s difficult to complain when there are two words – “good time” – to be written across most of the refrains on display, and while the likes of “Hold On” ooze suburban ennui these pieces’ ultimate optimism wins in the end. It’s also hard to resist the sparse acoustic tension of the album’s title track or the ’60s-styled, piano-sprinkled “She’s On Fire” where instrumental waves subside and Geoff’s vocals shine the brightest.
And then there’s a well-polished “Feel The Blues” whose chug is facilitated by scintillating six-strings and electric ivories, a 10CC-eyeing rhythm-and-blues “Are You Strong Enough?” – and romantic “Midnight Blue” which is memorable and jagged in equal measure. But once the hymnal “Free” picks up the pace, stylistics don’t really matter anymore as handclaps lift the riff’s weight and let the listener be liberated – it’s a big town, after all, and it’s good that Geoff Carne roams the streets somewhere out there.