Glorious soulful americana marks triumphant return for Mashville.
Well it’s been four years since we last heard from Mashville with their third album ‘Another Place’, and it’s fair to say a lot has changed during that time for all of us. For the band it has meant a change of line up to the rhythm section with Ant Wellman on bass, and Nick Streeter on drums and backing vocals joining Graham Loft on rhythm guitar and lead vocals and Berin Riley on lead guitar, and together in late 2020 they took themselves to Soup Studios in London to set about recording their fourth album ‘Lead Heavy Soul’.
The album opens with the title track, and straight away it draws you in with the opening line “If I slip this skin to begin again”, setting a reflective, melencholy mood against a gentle beat, punctuated with some delicious guitar lines from Riley, slightly reminiscent of Dire Straits, whilst the following track ‘Katie’, picks up the pace with some fine fiddle playing from James Patrick Gavin, and glorious pedal steel from Henry Senior, who many will know from ‘Danny & The Champions’.
Track three “Scene of a Crime“, opens with a lovely piano intro from George Hoffman, while Loft’s lyrics take us on a journey of European history and philosopher, Pitirim Sorokin, all cloaked in a veil of mystery, the music subtly seeping into our unconscious. This mood continues as we get to track six “Chains”, one of the standout tracks on the album, with a wonderful guitar solo by Riley, while the following track “Water under the Bridge” has some gorgeous harmony vocals and a hint of Simone Felice about it.
“She’s only my Friend“, is track nine and the albums closer. It is also the current single, which some might find strange, but once you listen to the album you realise it works perfectly, because in many ways it encapsulates so much of what this album is about. Themes of what we had, choices, what we lose, and what remains, run through this album all wrapped up in a sound as subtle and warm as it is precise and intense, the perfect conduit to take the listener through each song.
It may only be February, but I have a feeling “Lead Heavy Soul” could well feature in many ‘Best Of’ lists by the end of the year.