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Reviews

Slow Club
One Day All Of This Won't Matter Any More Matthew Horton , August 31st, 2016 13:21

As many rash souls have learned to their cost, bringing new people into a relationship is a terrific way to encourage tears, rancour and difficult conversations over who gets to keep the cat. But sometimes, improbably, a big old chap with a beard is the perfect tonic to freshen things up a bit.

Rebecca Taylor and Charles Watson have been at the pop game for a good decade now and are presumably pretty much sick of each other. Slow Club formed in Sheffield, but now they're cast asunder, Watson holed up in London and Taylor embedding herself in the arty corner of Margate that gets in all the Sunday supplements, the pair taking a break from each other and whatever pressures weigh down on the nearly-made-its. Still, only a couple of years after third album Complete Surrender, they're ready to give it another go, and here comes that bearded saviour, Matthew E White and the Spacebomb band, the Muscle Shoals of the Old Dominion, to inject new life into a sluggish career.

In mitigation, Slow Club had been making their own steady progress. Complete Surrender was certainly a serious advance on the semi-joke tracks and schmindie indie that had diminished the sweet folk of their first two albums, Yeah So (2009) and Paradise (2011), bringing out Taylor and Watson's natural harmonies and giving them space to breathe in its easy country-soul. Taking the duo over to the Spacebomb home in Richmond, Virginia, White has given them the opportunity to explore this further and, crucially, has augmented the Slow Club sound with his own house band. They offer something you might call (if you grit your teeth hard enough) "authenticity".

Everything just feels better this time around, from sturdier melodies to smarter lyrics (Watson's 'Sweetest Grape On The Vine' a particular favourite: "I don’t need to be the rarest bird out on the silent sea/I just need to know I'm useful three to five days a week"). You can't credit their new pal with everything, but the feel he brings has to help.

Taylor's in particularly great voice, all on her own. She's a ringer for Maria McKee over the organ-driven intensity of 'Give Me Some Peace' and the galloping FM rock of 'Champion', her husky, expressive tones wringing every drop of emotion out of her songs, but packing them with power in exchange. When she leads Watson and the Spacebomb band through the mellifluous slow funk of 'Come On Poet' or the ringing gospel pop of 'Rebecca Casanova', Slow Club stake their claim for that fiercely fought title, "new Fleetwood Mac".

They might need to be a little more consistent to make that one stick, but if they're up for it, One Day All Of This Won't Matter Anymore is a decent launch pad, proving they've the confidence to mix it up. While Taylor goes for the punch, Watson's a touch more circumspect, rolling with the Hammond organ and slide guitar on subdued opening one-two 'When The Light Gets Lost' and 'Ancient Rolling Sea', finding the unlikely sweet spot where the Bee Gees meet Teenage Fanclub on the lovely colourful pop of 'Silver Morning', and getting terribly uncool with the sub-ABBA 'Tattoo Of The King'.

If that all sounds like a ridiculous melange of, well, stuff, that's only testament to Slow Club's renewed ambition and what appears to be a barefaced love of pop. The real trick's in getting it all to hang together, and largely it does. Whether that's down to Taylor and Watson's burgeoning understanding and songwriting chops, or White's production skills and beautifully drilled band, is one for debate. It takes three, baby, and a few more just to make sure.

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