Review: Chris Helme- 'The Rookery'


Written by Lauren Dyson
10 Monday 10th September 2012

The tracks in the album were admirably created in just nine days in a hideaway, nestled in the wilds of the beautiful and enchanting Yorkshire Dales. This gives the work an unmanufactured and natural essence to it. The whole album is somewhat spiritual and I believe the spontaneity and creative setting is exhibited in every track in its own way. Surprisingly, none of it is rushed; there is no uncomfortable haste to the material.

Moreover, like any good album, the tracks as a whole brings together a melting pot of different feelings. ‘Long way round’ is dripping with groovy country jauntiness. The melodic vocals assimilate perfectly with the toe-tapping rhythms and it’s abrupt close, without being cliché, does actually leave you wanting more.  Conversely, ‘The Spindle and The Cauldron’, is hypnotizing and bohemian. It reminds me of a spookier more rowdy Beatles.

Call me uncreative or a musical philistine but I do not see the point in the instrumental. ‘Pickled Ginger’ introduces a false mood for the album that is just not present in the rest of the tracks, yes I can understand the talent in it but it just does not integrate well with the rest of the album. This perhaps may be because within this track, the most important component and Helme’s greatest weapon within his music is absent, his voice.

 Throughout the guitars are either perfectly fuzzy or beautifully melodic. The bluesy ‘Daddies Farm’ brings an upbeat happiness to the album that is accelerated by the accompaniment of female vocals on the catchy chorus. Then the raw tingly guitar in the next track in ‘Summer Girl’ brings a contrast of atmospheric feeling. Finger noise can be heard when Helm changes from chord to chord, giving ‘Summer Girl’ added raw and unpolished tones. This constant fluctuation of moods and vibes throughout take you on a sonic journey.

Creating music is all about being inspired by people you admire and I can hear remnants of country music and Johnny Cash, Rolling stones blues rock, enchanting  hippieish sixties vibes and melodic 90s alternative. Helme has fashioned a mature individual accomplished sound by using these inspirations. I saw Helme perform a solo set in 2009 in a dark dingy box of a pub but now there are bigger things in store for him. Furthermore, seeing him play with a full band would be something to experience.

The Seahorses reeked of the 90’s feeling, and they embodied everything the decade represented.  ‘The Rookery’ exemplifies that he has said goodbye to this era of Britpop categorization.

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