Lee Small

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Lee Small is probably better known as a member of Shy (current) and bands such as Pride. But here he is solo and has presented an album with a yo ho ho theme. The songs are all evocative of pirate coves with titles such as “Walk The Plank”, “I Am The Sea” and “Waiting For The Hangman”.

Presumably this singer from the West Midlands had a summer in Cornwall.

Anticipating a tired and cliched trot of mid paced songs I have to say I have been pleasantly surprised. There is a really funky blues tone to much of the album and it is probably that sound that keeps this ticking along and prevents it getting too mixed up in a concept.

The opener and title track is a solid bluesy rock song and sets the mood for what comes. The little shots of wailing lead are well supported by moody organ at times and Small’s vocal has depth and richness. Most of the lyrics are delivered with a subtle sense of consideration as if he is really pausing for thought.

“Black Bess” actually pushes the blues towards a sort of upbeat Americana vibe and it’s a nice change of direction before “Walk The Plank” cranks it back up and is vaguely reminiscent of Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” albeit slower.

The second half sees a slight over use of seagull, and no doubt barnacle, encrusted intros but the songs themselves continue to be strong. The slow mood of the choir on “I Am The Sea” is excellent and a nice bit of variety to an already subtly varied selection of songs.

The closer, “Renegade Accordion Player” is totally at odds with everything else and combines the sound of breaking surf with some dodgy busking and even at just one minute still leaves an unpalatable salty taste in the mouth. I can’t see many trainee pirates keeping that one.

Overall it is strong, bluesy rock with some good variety thrown in. The vocals are excellent and to be honest this is the best I have heard from Lee Small. The players have clearly given a lot of their own input (although the bass is down way too far for me) and this bobs along nicely looking for a shingled beach to rest upon. Don’t worry - despite the theme of the album they have managed to avoid such cliched rubbish. I haven’t! ~Review by Justin Hulford

Lee Small

Matt Minglewood
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