Michael & Michelle “The Watching Silence”

Decca Records, 2022

Downtown Abbey meets americana – or does it?

When I received the notification from my editor asking me to review this record, he said “Bet you didn’t think you’d get to mention Downton Abbey in a review!” That same editor actively encourages his reviewers not to write in the first person and in all my time reviewing for Americana UK I’ve done what I’m asked but I thought it was time to break the fourth wall (albeit temporarily) to review an album by two actors, Michael Fox (no not that one, the British one) and Michelle Dockery who I’m reliably told play “The Footman” and “Lady Mary” in “Downtown Abbey” (there’s that mention), a TV show I must admit I have never seen and to be perfectly frank, am not interested in. I have no idea what the relationship is between the two characters – possibly they’re having an upstairs/downstairs fling but whatever it is, the two actors have now made a record together, a four track EP called ‘The Watching Silence’ and they’ve even gotten themselves a record deal with the mighty Decca Records, a company I worked for back in the day – but that’s another story (maybe even a series?).

Recorded at Church Studios in Crouch End and produced by Ian Grimble (Bears Den, Daughter and Catfish And The Bottlemen) the duo who met on the set of the award-winning show are accompanied by Chris Mass (Mumford & Sons) on drums and Tommy Heap (Willy Mason) on drums and piano and a very pleasant sound it is too with some delightful string arrangements on three of the tracks. The main feature of the record are the sublime harmonies the pair are able to lay down especially on the opening and closing tracks ‘Calming Storm’ and ‘Watching The Silence’ respectively. On the two middle tracks, ‘Misfire’ and ‘Walk With You’, Michael takes the lead on the former before the harmonies kick in and Michelle takes the lead on the latter before Michael adds his voice to the mix.

‘The Watching Silence’ is a really nice EP, well written well sung and well produced. The press release says: “The music Fox and Dockery have found together is both classic and utterly timeless: though more Nashville Americana than UK folk in melody and structure, their impressionistic songs are modern and immediate, free of pastiche, and are shot through with their own London realism”. At this point, I’d have to disagree with that comment. In my opinion it would be hard pushed to call this album americana as it’s quite folky and poppy and more north London than north (or any other area) of Nashville. That’s not to say it’s a bad record, it’s certainly not that, but it may not be to the taste of everyone who comes to this website to read about everything americana.

6/10
6/10

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