Hope in High Water “Never Settle” (Independent, 2017)

I covered Josh Chandler-Morris’ original EP, a few years back, and it’s always a bit odd to open a records PR and find yourself quoted back.  I find JCM voice a comfort – there is something reassuring in the records he makes with Carly Slade, I like the thought of their hometown Milton Keynes being the place where old punks end up, washed up maybe, and then the environs inspire them to make gorgeous Americana.

JCM’s voice is world weary beyond his years. Falsely he sounds like years on the road, of 100’s of gigs a year – it’s rough, coarse, yet the confidence he has in his craft, and rightly so, makes this a joy for the ears.  The two voices together is a perfect marriage, a subtle, brutal beauty in their work is a wonder, dark of the soul, warm of heart. They are our Handsome Family, and one of the most under-appreciated duos in the UK.

Rock and roll has always been the music of sex, of raw teenage (now middle aged in my case) unadulterated passion, almost for its own sake and Four Strange Walls is that in song encapsulated. Slade’s post coital comedown ballad, a sunny Sunday morning spent under the sheets is one of the most arresting and starkly enjoyable things you’ll hear.  The record truly shines the more she steps forward. “Never Settle” revels in its tough undercurrent of bitter melancholy – and because of that it will bring you joy.

Author: Rudie Hayes

Rudie is the weekly host of the syndicated radio show – The Horseshoe Lounge Music Session – playing the best American Roots and hosting terrific live guests.

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