Album Review

Sam Brace – Fever & Bones: Album Review

Sam Brace – aka Mule from Skinny Lister – goes solo in 90s inspired set.

Release Date: 10th June 2022

Label: Elusive Music

Format: digital / CD

The Skinny Lister jellied eel eating champion steps into a new arena; that of the famed solo album where things could take off or go spectacularly awry, leaving said participant returning to the fold, tail between legs. and the promise never to entertain thoughts of solo stardom again.

Expectations of a variation on the day job, the riotous shanty punk and flagon swilling chaos purveyed by the Skinnies, can be put to one side. Why would he do more of what he normally does? Too much of a good thing leaves one wanting less and all that. So what form does the solo Mule take? For starters, the songs result from a collaboration with Adam Tarry, promising “90s rock-inspired” that could cover many sins: Oasis, Radiohead, Pearl Jam, The Cranberries, Pulp…take your pick. The mind boggles but at least it’s a broad palette.

One thing is guaranteed: the album title – the obsessive hyper-intense state that occurs with total infatuation as well as the pain when things come to an end – runs like a thread through the songs. In a nutshell, a celebration of those moments.

The single, Partly Coded, adds weight to the claim behind those inspirations. Do we detect a hint of baggy trousered Mancunian legends James in the sprightly bounce of the acoustic guitar? Probably fallen not too far from the tree we reckon. And should we expect the road the lead neatly down a similar path, the second single, Ultraviolet throws a curveball with a big rock ballad, power chords to the fore, that might contain a couple of Gallagher-esque solo nods but certainly adds its two penn’orth to the variety on offer.

Crowns has him declaring “this is not a drill” – is that a line from a Skinny Lister song? – and he croons through a lovely big ballad (I’m thinking potential Bond theme given less of a guitar part and more awash with strings) on Panic, all the while avoiding any conscious references to the day job. Even when he goes into Year Of Punk which by it’s very nature is suggestive of a particular mood, the song heads into the guitar pop territory of Morrissey and Marr. If anyone is seeking a more punk-y fix, then Fine Adjustments offers that; the spirit of the age has the potential to induce a little touch of pogo-ing.

The moody, broody pop continues and as we hit the final lap; there’s a distinct Radiohead vibe with Clean Air Turbulence even going as far as the languid Thom Yorke drawl and as a final reminder, Hello Hell has the clear potential to surface as another single offering to reboot the album maybe in a few months time. “This is the time to be brave,” he sings in, erm, Brave and fair play to Sam for taking a ride out of shantypunksville and showing us where his influences (and possibly his heart) lies.

Here’s Partly Coded:

Sam Brace online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Bandcamp / Youtube

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