Billy Vincent – Stay On Course, No Remorse

I'm hangin' out with Inspector Morse? Doesn't work. Band – Billy Vincent
Album – Stay On Course, No Remorse
Label – None, self released!
Release date – Physical release (100 copies) available 12 Oct 2009, digital download available now from website)

I’ve got to admit, I’m oblivious to the genre known as ‘dirty folk’ – for those with a wrong mind it probably throws up images of men in long coats visiting theatres that only play movies with 3 X’s in the title. I’m assuming in musical terms, ‘dirty folk’ refers perhaps to a more gritty and ramshackle approach to folk music, possibly the inclusion of impromptu feedback, the light fuzz of distortion and the sound of a mud clod smacking against a snare drum (perhaps not this). South London’s Billy Vincent have achieved this to some extent and even thrown in several more sounds and images to conjure up such as pirates, sunny beaches, being stoned and milk-carton guitars.

One of the most interesting tracks from ‘Stay On Course...’ is ‘The Old Lamar Oak’ which draws some inspiration from psychedelic folk-nutters MV & EE ”“ the slight echoing-pound of the lurching drums, dual-vocal wail and subtle guitar strokes and delicate background percussion give the impression of a group of inebriated druids jamming around a campfire.

The beginning of ‘On The Five String’ fools me into thinking Billy Vincent have covered Tenacious D’s ‘Wonderboy’ – the similarities between the opening guitar plucks is uncanny. Veering away from the hippy-world of wailing drones and scrawling noises, ‘On The Five String’ features an underlying calypso style beat, effortlessly jaunting along. Even the ukulele sound, which thankfully doesn’t dip into the George Formby territory, is a confident slice of hook-laden acoustic bounce.

It’s the delicate nature of several of these songs that really form the backbone of ‘Stay On Course, No Remorse’, particularly ‘In My Pocket’, with the kind of breathless, shivering vocals that sound almost Icelandic in their delivery, whilst the flowing atmospheric swarm of sounds and rambling Creedence-guitar hold everything together.

Destiny Arrested’ gives a nod towards the mournful-spook of Dan Sartain, and his western-style acoustic rock. For the most part it sounds brilliant, like some sorrow-soaked ballad that you’d see a poncho-wearing bard play at the gallows; however, the vocals slightly let it down, sounding a bit Jamie T-ish, but there’s enough of Sartain’s brand of cutting swagger to single this out as one of the best tracks on the album.

The lyrics on ‘Truly’ seem to reference disaster and calamity (“from the pacifist with his head in the noose”¦.the cannonball smashed and split the deck again, sent us sliding from the wreck again”) but chooses the positive path, with the words “to the debris we will cling till dawn”¦.kiss the sand and sing it all again” – it has that distinctly rustic appeal of youthful exuberance, with the kind of anthemic sing-a-long that is so effortlessly easy to slide into, similar to Brand New’s ‘Soco Amaretto Lime’. It sounds like something that would be played at over a montage of shots from an American-teen drama series.

The thing about ‘Truly’ is, that it works in dragging the listener in, catching them with its hooky guitar upstrokes, old-man harmonica and an erratic sense of optimistic chaos. It’s radically different from the other tracks, opting for “cram as many instruments in as possible” tact, rather than the stripped down-bareness of the grief-stricken, alcohol-fuelled ‘Wrong Side of the Glass’, which sounds like something a fragile old drunk would belt out the next time a karaoke night hits his local.

Stay On Course, No Remorse’ by Billy Vincent is a distinctly warm listening experience, like knocking back several drops of a single malt and sitting with your eyes closed, savouring the flavour as it flows down your throat; that slight burn as it catches your pallet, but ultimately it’s the soft glow of comfort and serenity you cherish.

(Stream or download the album here!)

Links

Billy Vincent Official Site
Billy Vincent Myspace

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Lizard Hips

Junior Vice President of Keep It Fast. In other news: I work in social media, talk about dinosaurs, run a book club and have amazing facial hair. I am also a male man who is still not dead.

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