Richard Palmer-James — Takeaway
(PP006CD, 2016, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2017-02-06
Taking a break from all the noise and avant-isms that have crossed my desk recently, I find this very nice release from Richard Palmer-James. This songwriter is best known to fans of progressive rock for his work as a lyricist who contributed to some of King Crimson’s classic 70s albums (Larks’ Tongues through Red), though his status as one of the founding members of Supertramp is more relevant to this effort. Those expecting anything musically progressive might be disappointed, but if you’re looking for good, solid songwriting in a variety of rock styles, Palmer-James provides ample evidence that he’s the real deal. If I had to pick a reference from an artist familiar (perhaps) to prog fans, it would be Peter Blegvad’s 80s solo work, like The Naked Shakespeare and Knights Like This. Not only is there a similarity in vocal tone, but the songs are similarly smart and wordy. I’m also reminded a bit of T-Bone Burnett. On the instrumental side, the base is a slightly bluesy folk-rock style, with a nice balance between acoustic and electric instruments; acoustic guitar, slide guitar, and mandolin rub shoulders with drums and electric bass. Palmer-James has a wonderfully engaging voice with a gentle vibrato and crisp enunciation that doesn’t seem fussy. Takeaway is a totally honest, classy, unpretentious album without a single misstep. In the ranks of male singer-songwriters I admire (John Hiatt, Paul Kelly, Richard Thompson, and a handful more), Richard Palmer-James may yet find a place, though his small output as a solo artist (this is his first actual solo album in a career that stretches back to 1970) leaves him with a lot of catching up to do. This release is a solid step in that direction, and proof that there’s still room for good music in some of the old forms.
Related artist(s): Richard Palmer-James
Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more
10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more
Bill Bruford Ventures into Uncharted Territory – Drum master Bill Bruford, veteran of some of the most creative bands in history (King Crimson, Yes, Genese, etc.), is sharing some of what he's learned about being a drummer and a musician in his new book, Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer, out on University of Michigan Press. » Read more