BEAU – Deep In The Dark

Cherry Red 2023

British troubadour delves into his treasure chest to uncover the gems that are hard to forget.

Deep In The Dark

For more than a decade now, Trevor Midgley’s annual albums have had an air of reader’s digest about them, their commentary on current affairs and study of historical events married to the ring of the singer-songwriter’s twelve strings and ever-youthful voice, as well as his poetry, sculpting an arresting mélange of arts, yet there’s always been a feeling of the veteran attempting to make up for his time in the wilderness, the period between 1971 and 2001 which saw no Beau record issued. Not for the lack of trying, though, as his first rummage through archives showed, but it wasn’t enough, as the musician himself realized, and here comes what can amount to one of the most important releases of Trevor’s career, “a heritage project”: a collection of tracks revealing the links between his past and present, the numbers never heard in any form interspersed with early, significantly different variants of pieces familiar from Midgley’s later platters.

The sonic differences are manifested right from the off, with most of the cuts on offer having Beau’s vocals underpinned by electric, rather than usual acoustic, guitars – just like it was on his sophomore effort, "Creation" – that shape a fresh dynamic for this material. They shine a blinding light on such jewels as the previously stashed away “Joseph & Amanda” from 1980, an effervescent Yuletide ballad Trevor’s fingers festoon with flamenco-like vignettes, or openers – the bluesy “Rooks & Ravens” where words are simultaneously spoken and sung to a dizzying effect, and the twangy ditty “Speedbird” where the cosmic waves of fairground organ spice up the drift – which Midgley laid down in the following years only to lyrically update in some places, to discharge and to postpone until "Fly The Bluebird" took wing in 2014 alongside a couple of other opuses on display here. And if the idyllic 1971 acetates “The Simplest Of Things” and “The Hilltop” edge close to his regular folk-informed repertoire, 1981’s “All I Ever Wanted” and 1991’s “So Far Down” introduce various-eras dance elements to Trevor’s trade, and the anxious “Here They Come” features a drum machine, while the enchanting “Castle Song” from 1978 and “The Part We Have To Play” from 1984 which would end up on "The Way It Was" in 2011 float on a delicate ripple of synthesizer and piano.

Interestingly, the scintillating attunements of 1983’s “Storm In The Eye Of God” and 1985’s “Don’t Let Them Take You Away” seem much more alluring than the versions0 that appeared on "Shoeless In The Desert" in 2005, and the histrionic “Waverley Junction” from 1983 rides a pop carousel that, with its curious characters and gentle psychedelia, seems to be far removed from Midgley’s regular method – as is the full-band treatment of 1981’s “The Wine Was Sweeter Then” that eventually landed, arguably with less eerily romantic luster, on "Twelve Strings To The Beau" – originally preserved for posterity in 1975 but presented to the public in 2013. However, the funereal filigree of “Poisoned Epitaph” didn’t meet the audience in 1983 and debuts here – gloriously so – neatly summing up the artist’s impetus to dig deep in the dark and uncover delights everyone could marvel at. A tremendous excavation!


August 15, 2023

Category(s): Reviews
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