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Tuesday, 31 March 2020 15:22

Ayla Brook & The Sound Men

Written by Roddy Campbell
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Desolation Sounds (Fallen Tree Records)

There’s a glorious, dog-eared literacy at play on Desolation Sounds that might have stumbled off the pages of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. It’s clearly a recording full of dark, inventive narrative that’s endlessly quotable. How about: “Mamma sold bootleg goat’s milk / poppa wore braids and a beard.” Amidst the flotsam and jetsam of human accord, the “kings and queens of the small-town scene / in old leather and army green” are “lost in desolation sounds”. You can just imagine Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty, “Laid out on our backs / to watch the lightening / chain across the clouds / the dark sky brightening/before the rain.”

Musically, though, Desolation Sounds is a bit of a mixed bag wrapped around freewheeling indie, several variations of blues, from the rollicking opening title to track, Lift You Up, to the captivatingly moody, largely acoustic, Who Are You, on which Brook amptly proves his worth on resophonic guitar. While there’s no clear-cut direction, there are tasty minor diversions: the wistful of Love & Laughter, and even a respectful take on the old Appalachian warhorse Little Birdie. All told, this disc demands resolute attention if only for its electric, lyrical flair. Bless those bearded beats.

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