Saturday, October 15, 2011

rise up

A while back, we had a little chinwag with David McAlmont, one of the UK's finest vocalists. At the time, he was touring and preparing for a return with some newly recorded material. Now, he has confirmed his emergence for the studio with the "Smokehouse" EP.

However, there is a twist. Rather than a solo album, David has returned as one half of Fingersnap, his newly formed collaborative partnership with flame haired compadre and pianist extraordinaire, Guy Davies.

Of course, Mr. McAlmont is no stranger to this configuration as he started his career as part of Thieves with Saul Freeman, then reached the dizzying heights of the singles chart with Bernard Butler, has stepped in Shirley Bassey's diamante heels with David Arnold, and most recently stretched his considerable vocal talents on an album with Michael Nyman. Eclectic? Oui. Magnifique? Absolutment.

The first fruits of David's collaboration with Guy appeared as two new studio tracks on "Live From Leicester Square", a live album (natch!) featuring a number of songs from across David's nearly twenty year career. Two covers, "Isn't It A Pity", originally recorded by George Harrison, and the Tom Waits composition, "Grapefruit Moon" were featured as bonus tracks. Guy played piano on the entire project.

Lead song on the four track "Smokehouse" EP is "I Wanna Rise", which is home to a sparkling, soulful and uplifting chorus that wouldn't sound out of place on a Brand New Heavies album. That is not a bad thing at all by my standards as I am a massive BNH fan.

The track starts out with a sforzando string line built from of an amalgam of Motown classics. A hearty laugh from Mr. McAlmont reinforces his pleasure at being able to deliver another installment of quality songs. The first verse is little jarring upon first listen but starts to bleed into shape and find its roots by the time the Guy's piano appears just prior to the rise before the chorus. As I mentioned previously, it's a glorious payoff.

The boys even found time in their hectic schedule to lense a vid for the tune.

Ah, London is a fine locale for a music video. While Mr. McAlmont shimmies, shakes and shuffles, Mr. Davies seems a bit camera shy. Show us more of yer mug, Guy.

Second cut, "Some Kind Of Masterpiece", is a subdued affair with more Motown influences and David channelling a bit of Nina Simone. It is underpinned by Guy's left hand piano and tasteful rhodes. As with "I Wanna Rise", the string arrangement are lovingly draped across the track and give it a classic 70s soul vibe.

Next up is "Mister" which seems to detail a harrowing tale of spousal abuse dressed in an uptempo, 70s rock and soul hybrid with a handclappy rhythm at its core. The lyrics are visually arresting and David's powerful vocal performance slips in shades of Billy Preston and early Michael Jackson.

"The Bishop Of New Hampshire", the final track on the EP, is an elegiac, piano driven ballad which ends with a male vocal choir. It's another lyrically powerful song which seems to have benefited from David's work with Michael Nyman. The subject matter appears to have been ripped from the headlines of our ever present 24/7 news cycle.

All in all, the "Smokehouse" EP is a welcome addition to David's considerable catalog. Working tirelessly with Guy, both on the road and in the studio, has given birth and breath to a strong collaboration in the shape of Fingersnap. I am seriously looking forward to an entire album which will, hopefully, see the light of day in the very near future.

The "Smokehouse" EP will be available from all fine "shops" on November 14. If you wanna invest in a little communication with David, check out my recent interview by clicking here.

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