The Irish singer-songwriter’s fourth album, the third in as many years, shows no sign of any creative tail off. Initially intended as a five track EP, the songs and ideas kept coming so he kept the tape kept rolling.
Stylistically there’s no real departures, the album a meld of Americana, Memphis tinged soul, Celtic roots rock imbued by established influences (Simon, Morrison, Petty, Springsteen, Forbert, Dylan) and songs well balanced between gentle acoustic strums and fuller band arrangements.
Again produced by Neilson Hubbard in Nashville, it’s the former that kicks things off with what could well be the album’s motto, Whatever Happens Will, an easy rolling Forbertish number that you’ll find yourself humming along to from the start. As per its title, Uncomplicated keeps things simple with Evan Hutchings laying down a steady drum beat over which are laid strings and a gradually strengthening guitar while Glover’s soulful, slightly nasal croon carries the song along.
One of the album’s stand outs, the Pettyish melancholy of Memo, follows with a catchy rhythmic chug, minimal piano notes, mandolin and gospel hued ‘woo ah’ female backing vocals before, backed by Dan Mitchell on organ, soulful Van-like waltz Do What You Do briefly brings the slower tempo numbers to a halt.
Cranking up the chiming guitars, War To Believe (All This Time) is painted in decidedly early Tom Petty colours though, when the electric guitar break arrives midway you might also hear daubs of The Replacements and Ryan Adams too.
After this, it’s back to quieter tones for the gentle country folk ripples of the romantic And Only You And I, a song meant to be danced to under starlit clear skies, sparse heartbreaker No Means Yes (another gem) with Glover’s hushed, bruised vocals embraced by just sad churchy organ and acoustic guitar, and soul folk mantra A Thousand Suns with leg slap percussion, reverb guitar and Carey Ott on ukulele. Featuring some muscular guitar chords, Break Away’s mid-tempo rootsy rock search for escape ("I can’t go fast enough, and I can’t get drunk enough") offers an unexpected touch of Roy Orbison as it builds to a soaring climax.
However, he saves the best to last with the haunting Rampart Street. Mining both Springsteen’s Nebraska and Dylan’s Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues and featuring Tania Elizabeth on violin it’s ,the second song he’s co-written with Mary Gauthier. Inspired by a teenage shooting in New Orleans, it movingly describes a rain-washed funeral in a lyric about the need for release and grace and is, unquestionably, the finest number he’s yet recorded.
The album title refers to the idiom about doing something that makes it impossible for you to go back to the situation you were in before. In recording this album, Glover’s set himself an almost impossible task in following it. I have no doubt he’s more than up to the challenge. - Net Rhythms