Album Review

Stuart Anthony & Larry Beckett – Mirabeau Bridge: Album Review

Pause awhile, take in the view, share the scenes from Mirabeau Bridge with Stuart Anthony and Larry Beckett.

Release Date:  8th April 2022

Label: Independent

Formats: CD / digital / vinyl

The bridge: between banks of the Seine, between Apollinaire and his lovers, between the Belle Epoque and now, between languages, between music and lyrics, between Anthony and Beckett.
Larry Beckett October 2021

Stuart Anthony (the songwriter) and Larry Becket (the poet) have form. A duo who’ve collaborated successfully over the past decade on various themed projects, the most recent of which was their Risk Is Music EP. Perhaps they’ve taken the risk line againwith Mirabeau Bridge. Well, not quite ‘risk’ per see, but certainly a step into the beyond and the exotic on a set that defies pigeonholing and predictability.

Beckett himself might forever be linked with the iconic Song To The Siren but his muse and his art is still strong and in Stuart Anthony he’s found a musical partner, a foil, with empathy and a similar vision. With Beckett’s literary prowess, the guarantee is that there’s going to be a genuine quality in the words and their delivery, be they spoken or sung. With the music, the broad pallet that Stuart Anthony has at his disposal ensures that the merging of words and music will always be unique and empathetic.

Back in 2020, Stuart teased how: “Larry Beckett’s translations of Apollinaire’s poetry have a habit of turning into song.” Mirabeau Bridge is the culmination of that work. With Beckett busying away at translating Guillaume Apollinaire’s visionary modernist French poetry, Anthony worked to create new music that would provide the canvas for Beckett’s words. There’s also a Beckett poem set in Paris and we can’t mention his name without a nod to Tim Buckley so the duo adds a breezy little version of his Moulin Rouge as a little amuse-bouche- an inevitable choice maybe, yet it’s a perfect fit.

Having got so far, it won’t take too much imagination to guess the vibe of the fourteen pieces. Shimmering in Gallic qualities the guitars and accordions, drones, drums and chanteurs bring the promise to life. Larry Beckett channels his inner Vincent Price/Orson Wells in some dramatic and evocative readings while his musical foil adss an empathetic series of soundscapes to conjure images of Parisienne walkways. Of course, sirens sing and knowing glances are exchanged between wayfaring strangers. Visions are conjured where street performers revel in a kaleidoscope of sound.

The gentle swing of the carnival merry-go-round of the opening overture, Acrobats, sets the scene for a smoky stroll through the sights and sounds of Paree. Punctuated by those evocative tones of Mr Beckett, there’s a languid ease that oozes from the flow of one piece into another. The Lorelei is particularly dramatic with an ambiance that’s decorated with bright peals of twelve string guitar. There’s a hint of impending darkness in the confession “I’m tired of living and my eyes are cursed” as that acoustic gentility segues into Rosemary and an encounter with a poor wayfaring stranger. as the mood shifts to a Morricone toted aspect.

We can’t escape a return and regular visits back to the fairground for brief encounters with the melancholic slow swing of Marie, The Gypsy (where the Hawley/Cash/Orbison croon is like liquid velvet), a White Album-y Chloe. The slow accordion sitting deeper in the mix give a nudge to remind us that we remain deeply rooted in Frendh France should we forget.

There’s a final chance to look down from Sacre Couer in the native tongue before we once again meet the acrobats for a gentle encore that brings us full circle. And once again, we’re left to reflect on a totally intriguing and fulfilling Beckett/Anthony concoction that demands a deeper investigation. Merging cultures and styles, they’re a duo whose work is never anything less than interesting.

Mirabeau Bridge produced, mixed and mastered by Paul Walmsley
Translations and spoken word by Larry Beckett
All instrumentation and vocals by Stuart Anthony – except drums on two tracks contributed by Allan Gardner
All music written by Stuart Anthony except the two covers.

Traverse le point!

Watch the official video for the haunting Mirabeau Bridge from the album here

Stuart Anthony online: Twitter / Facebook / Bandcamp / Youtube

Larry Beckett online: Website / Facebook / Twitter

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