I don’t know if it’s about getting older and wanting to ensure that I spend my time only listening to what I really like, or just a shorter attention span. Thing is, I’ve not got as much space to allow music to settle. Maybe that’s unfair. That’s just how it is, though. Ok ?
So if you want to equivocate, maybe this album is a grower. But I’m going to back my judgment and say that it just doesn’t hit the mark. I’m not denying the musicianship, or sniping at the integrity of the group. I should imagine that they’re honest, decent people trying to make something worthwhile, whatever that may be. To be honest with you, dear hearts (please excuse me, I’m obsessed with ‘The Night Manager’ (the book that is), ‘Palomino’ isn’t an album that’s going to stay with me past this review.
There’s a paucity of tunes, an over-abundance of noodling, and a distinct lack of focus.
In terms of tunes, only opener ‘You, Darling, You’ and ‘It’s a Shame’ buck the trend, and they’re spanked within the first third of the album. In particular ‘It’s a Shame’ really should have been at the head of the queue when it came to singles with its loose, soulful sway.
As it happens, it’s ‘Dance Through The Night’ that has made it onto the airwaves, one of many songs that poisons the well with pointless instrumental breaks. I can barely stomach the prospect of listening again to the dreadful sub-Doors organ solo that wrecks the middle of this six-minute non-floor-filler.
‘Dance Through the Night’ is only one of six songs that top five minutes on ‘Palomino’. If you’re going to stretch a tune out, you’d better have one of a number of things going for you; amongst other suggestions: a cogent narrative, a recurring motif that you return to, killer chorus and/or verse, a terrific, sympathetic solo or two. ‘Palomino’s time-stretchers have none of the above. ‘Never Been So Hard’ and ‘Lady Luck’ in particular seem to have no idea where they’re going, and little to keep us interested as we are reluctantly dragged along for the ride.
A final thought, however, for the one song that made this worthwhile. ‘St Andrew’s Cross’ is a lovely exploration of sadness and loss. It taps into qualities that Treetop Flyers evidenced in their earlier recordings: a folkier, more country feel; harmonies; a more delicate melody on guitar. “I have been, I have been, putting off the blues” sings Reid Morrison, on a track that really suits his keening vocals, in setting and subject matter. If nothing else, pick this one up, “help a brother, with his sad news”. The album is out on 11 March on Loose.