Of late fortune has smiled on Liverpudlian Robert Vincent. He was the first recipient of The Bob Harris Emerging Artist Award at the inaugural Americana Association UK Conference and Awards last year. He was also invited to be a showcase UK artist for Nashville’s Americana Fest in September and ended up in Rolling Stone’s list of “20 Best Things We Saw at Americana Fest”. On top of positive reviews for his debut album Life In Easy steps it seems it’s onwards and upwards for Mr. Vincent and consequently expectations for this album are quite high. Recorded in Liverpool and mixed in Nashville (with Ray Kennedy at the controls) I’ll Make The Most Of My Sins certainly meets these expectations although it’s an album that has a few surprises up its sleeve.
The album opens with a 40 second slice of ambient music that recalls Brian Eno. Titled Mobius (a nod to the mind boggling mathematical curiosity that is The Mobius Strip or a tribute to Dieter Mobius of Cluster and an Eno affiliate, who knows) it opens the door for the clangourous rock of So In Love. This is a brooding affair which drives along like REM’s Turn You Inside Out with an added dollop of slide guitar that sounds as if it’s slid in from a Southern swamp. It’s a hefty number with Vincent snarling over rolling guitars and a mighty organ groove as he dissects a relationship, the chorus ripe for rock radio. However this approach starts and stops with this one song, the remainder of the album subdued in comparison as Vincent retreats into troubadour mode. And while we have no complaints regarding the bulk of the album it will certainly bewilder anyone who buys the album on the strength of the song expecting more of the same.
For those in the know the rest of the album is plain sailing as Vincent carries on from his debut album with a set of songs that are tinged with various hues of country and folk formed from an acoustic base. There are moments when the sparks fly such as the electric guitars on Lady gilding the mandolin driven number recalling Rod Stewart’s early glory days while the cinematic murder mystery of November is given a full-blown Cinerama delivery with guitars ablazing over a thunderous rhythm. Elsewhere however there’s the laidback country lope of All For You, the bare folk emotion of Time Won’t Wait, the sad waltz of addiction on Dancing With Devils and the breezy country rock of Denial with its whippoorwill harmonica, all excellent songs. Throughout the album Vincent proves himself as a lyricist with echoes of Nick Lowe and Difford and Tillbrook of Squeeze and he reaches his apogee on the perfectly crafted You Wouldn’t Let It. Here he ponders on life’s regrets as the song structure recalls the dynamic build up of Otis Redding’s Try A Little Tenderness. The title song is another with soulful roots as organ and slide guitar drive this powerful Gospel like plea for a meaning to life and Vincent closes the album on a personal note with his litany of advice to his children on Hand To Hold, his words perfectly cosseted by the dreamlike shuffle of guitar and percussion. It rounds off the album excellently, a mature reflection closing an assuredly mature piece of work.
An excellent and intriguing album despite an opening curve ball