Lee Patterson “The Grinder’s Monkey” (LPMusic 2006)
Its about time Sod’s Law was repealed from the statute book. I mean, you’re on the ball and get sorted out with your top ten records of the year nice and early and boxed off then along comes something like this. Typical…
…except this record is anything but typical. Granted a bare bones description of the music on offer doesn’t, on the face of it, sound too inspiring. A singer/songwriter (ten-a-penny), strumming acoustic guitar (stop yawning over there) plays a sort of folky-blues (no, stay with me), sometimes a punky-folk (honestly, it’ll be worth it) and sometimes a folky-punk-blues (no, I promise…). But – we’ve yet to mention the fact that on occasion he eschews the guitar completely and makes do with a mad tambourine and voice stomp (“Passenger”) and if the tambourine is too much for you then there’s the voice and washboard minimalist reworking of classic Delta blues (“Your Close Friend”) or at least it would be if Lee Patterson weren’t more at home gazing across the Firth of Forth than the Mississippi. There are more delights on offer: some Caledonian zydeco (“Papa Jacques”), a trip across the windswept dustbowl via Waverly Station (“Esther”) and a sort of Jake Thackery meets Mojo Nixon drinking song (“The Grinder’s Monkey). There is never any sense of pastiche though – Patterson takes musical stylings and bends them to his own will and the whole exercise is infused with a literate, amusing and heart-felt sense of the trials and tribulations of an ordinary, working man. No where is this better evidenced than in the hauntingly beautiful “Jock Tamson” in which gently plucked guitar, xylophone and bowed-string provide the perfect backing to some of the most poignant words this reviewer has heard this year. A sample: “You say I’ve got a nerve/and woman you’d be right/you’ve been getting on it every day and every night/and there’s just no way a man like me could ever win/see you in another life” and “We line up our pints and we cuddle them like lovers/We tell each other lies and we’re laughing like brothers/and there’s just no way that guys like us will ever lose/like me and you” and more “The pensioners at Ladbrokes at the foot of the walk/they’re huddling together for company and warmth/and there’s just no way them old boys are gonna lose/like me and you”.
Of the ten tracks presented here its very difficult to pick a stand-out – understated production, accomplished musicianship, literate word-smithery and an absolute sense of conviction mean that they all standout. A joy to listen to and an absolutely mouthwatering prospect live.
Date review added: Monday, December 18, 2006
Reviewer: Paul Villers
Related web link: www.lpmusic.org.uk