A patchwork album which wears its rock credentials on its sleeve.
Since Noah And The Whale split in 2015, their guitarist Fred Abbott has been busying himself working as a producer, writer and session player for a range of up-and-coming artists. He released his first solo album eight years ago, so it’s been quite a gap between his debut and sophomore LP. For this release, Abbott recorded demos of all the songs with his own vocals. However, having listened to them he felt that the one thing that could be improved was the singing. Inspired by the “History Of The Eagles” documentary, Abbott decided to use the same template; getting four of his friends, Steve Llewellyn (Orphan Colours, Ahab), Dave Burn (The Marriage, Ahab), Tom Figgins and Rich Evans, to record lead vocals on all the songs and then picking the best-suited performance for each one.
The album opens with the short track ‘Act Accordingly’, which samples Orson Wells from his film “F For Fake”, and wouldn’t be out of place on a Public Service Broadcasting record. It segues into ‘Deep Down’ which ruminates on ‘Looking for truths about the afterlife’ but ‘Deep down you know there’s nothing’. ‘The Way Out Is Through The Door’ starts with a snippet of an interview with Tina Turner who is discussing her relationship with her abusive husband Ike. It gives the song its title, ‘If you’ve had enough, Being told you’re not good enough, It’s getting old being treated rough, And you know that you just can’t take it anymore, The way out is through the door’. It features some great guitar work by Abbott.
The album’s title track, sung by Tom Figgins, comes from a quote from the 1970’s American, comedy, mystery film “They Might Be Giants”. It’s a song of hope, if you look hard enough there will be something ‘Shining Under The Soot’. ‘Every Time It Rains’ sung by Steve Llewellyn has a slight John Mellencamp feel to it, with the main protagonist casting an eye to the past and an unrequited love. Rich Evans takes the lead on ‘One More Roll Of The Dice’ which has a slight AC/DC tinge to it.
The album comes to a close with the poignant ‘Where No Shadows Fall’ sung by Llewellyn and featuring some fine violin by Tom Hobden. In contrast to the first song it provides some hope, ‘You’re more than just, Ashes and dust, And a picture hanging on the wall, It’s not the end, We’ll meet again, Where no shadows fall’.
‘Shining Under The Soot’ unashamedly has a guitar or saxophone solo in almost every song, with nods to Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young to name just a few. The number of different vocalists on this album makes it somewhat of a curate’s egg, but if classic rock is your thing, and you sweep away the soot, there’s a lot to like here.