Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Found in OuterSpace
Gorgeous stuff. Imagine walking down an isolated country lane and stumbling across an inviting swimming hole (you know, like one out of an old Country Time Lemonade ad or The Andy Griffith Show) and jumping in expecting pleasant relief from simple heat but instead finding the water thicker, as if somehow taking stock of your very essence; memorizing what it is that affects you, what causes you to remember a person or incident warmly, fitting so perfectly into your subconscious that initially you can't quite take in how profoundly it has actually captured all the infinitesimal things that make up who you are.
What the hell am I talking about you ask? Well, Steve Tilston does just that in musical terms with "An Acoustic Confusion". I liked it on first listen but it took four or five listens until the depth of Tilston's achievement dawned completely on me. Like my analogy of thick water, this music courses around in your heart and head until both take the full measure of the other and find the fit oddly complimentary.
The opening track, "I Really Wanted You", is one of those songs that seems so at home in your mind that it feels as if you've known it since childhood. Maybe it sheds small glimmers of light on some tucked away memories but the effect is a comforting one. Elsewhere, "It's Not My Place To Fail", features the beautifully juxtaposed vocals of Tilston and Dave Evans, and the overall effect is mesmerizing, like two aspects of the same soul just simply and honestly letting you know how it is. "Train Song" shows off some incredibly nimble, fleet fingered guitar playing from Tilston where, as he puts it in the liner notes, his guitar "tries to emulate the rhythm of a speeding train." I can confirm his attempt is evocatively successful.
Instrumentally the album is safely in the realm of the simple folk tradition, yet this music is subtly but intrinsically different in that way Vashti Bunyan differs from, say, the folk of Pete Seeger. Tilston is a surprisingly mature and inventive guitarist, vocalist and lyricist (he was only twenty when he recorded this) and the vibe is in the same tradition of Nick Drake, Al Stewart and even Don McLean, without really sounding like any of them. His voice is remarkably fully rounded and assured, forging a unique path all his own. That's why comparisons with other musicians (as several reviewers have attempted) is useful in Tilston's case only as a starting point. It really is pointless to draw out any in depth comparisons with other artists.
The seeming simplicity of these lyrics belies a depth of emotion that is much more than the obvious collection of mere words. Poetry itself can be deceptively simple while containing messages much more profound than initially assumed and the overall effect here, of acoustic guitars, the occasional harmonica, string bass and violin, with crisp voices to the fore, is a musical example of that truth.
The very human details in Tilston's words, often detailing unrequited love, a failed relationship or fond childhood memory, is made complete and fully "poetic" by the snug musical framework.
This music is thick water and if you allow it, it will take stock of you and soon thereafter you will of it in that strange swimming dance between music and listener that is a rare and special thing. Take a left turn at the next fork in the road and when you find that little placid pond--take the plunge.
♫♪ Guitar, Vocals – Dave Evans, Steve Tilston
♫♪ Violin – Pete Finch
♫♪ Harmonica, Vocals – Keith Warmington
♫♪ Bass [String Bass] – John Turner
01. I Really Wanted You 04:31
02. Simplicity 03:49
03. Time Has Shown Me Your Face 03:51
04. It's Not My Place To Fail 04:05
05. Train Time 03:39
06. Sleepy Time On Peel Street 03:51
07. Prospect Of Love 02:31
08. Green Toothed Gardener 03:29
09. Normandy Day 03:12
10. Rock & Roll Star 04:56
11. Show A Little Kindness 05:00
12. The Price Of Love 04:17
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