Friday, 23 November 2012

Album Review - Gav Prentice - The Invisible Hand

oing solo is one of rock's greatest clichés.  We've all at one stage or another sat through an album from the frontman or guitarist (hell even some drummers get in on the act) of a band we really love, and thought 'what the chuff was that?'  Yet every now and then there emerges a solo album which genuinely does stand alone from the artists previous 'band' and serves as a vehicle for the musician to say something they couldn't have got across as a collective.

Step forward Gav Prentice, one half of indie-pop duo Over The Wall, who released his début solo album 'The Invisible Hand' via Instinctive Raccoon on 15th October. 

On first listen there's a familiarity in that Gav provided the vocals in Over The Wall, and while when speaking to him about the album he felt he'd adopted a more Scottish twang in the absence of his English counterpart, those familiar with OtW will not mistake Gav's distinctive vocal style.

Where the main difference will arise is the stripped back and acoustic style of 'The Invisible Hand'.  The production work on OtW's album 'Treacherous' was fun and outlandish, 'The Invisible Hand' is lo-key, at times rather raw and is emboldened for being so.  Themes of home-town blues, loss and the inevitability of ageing are explored through predominately indie-folk styled strummings and at times sung with anger and ire. 

The lyrical content of many of the tracks seems to be Prentice expunging himself, yet when Gav joined us on the Scottish Fiction show recently he revealed that there are in fact three different characters at play, each giving a different perspective to the same small town mentality.

Opening track 'King George' comes from the view of an elderly gentleman George, lamenting what has been and gone and ultimately changed and lost; "tried holding on to what I loved, tried holding on and now it's gone."

Lead single from the album 'Give It Up' is a rip-roaring track with a punchy beat backing the fury of Prentice's voice as he recalls the advice of home town friends and family who's advice in his early days of playing music was simply 'give it up'. 

'My home town is burning down' cries Prentice in folk track 'Burning Down' a sentiment that I'm sure many living within the small towns across Scotland's central belt.  There's also a cheeky wee nod to the Reid twins at the end of the track.

The lo-fi feel of the album is at it's most strongest during the short 'Honesty Lost In Silence' and 'I Know That', which serves, as it does throughout the album, to place Prentice's words at the fore.  One gets the feeling that for one reason or another these words were of such importance that they were not to be lost amidst the musical production of bleeps, whizzes and effects. 

The tempo picks up again on 'How Are You Sleeping', with a fast paced drum beat driving the song forward.  It's a strong track, again there's real anger in the lyrics.  The penultimate track is another short stutter of a track, 'I'm Not Gonna Cry' before the traditional 'Ae Fond Kiss', the Burns song re-arranged by Gav.  It's a fitting way to end an album which does focus a lot of the singer-songwriter fare of loss and anger. 

Gav Prentice - 'The Invisible Hand' is out now via Instinctive Raccoon.  You can buy the album hereCheck out Gav Prentice live this Saturday 24th November at The Flying Duck for his album launch.

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