|Howie Payne — Mountain (27 Oct 2017)|
Howie Payne — Mountain (27 Oct 2017)♣••♣ There are some good journey tracks, too. The Brightest Star is a plush venture forth with friends into the dusk light. Feeling safe and like a barrier from all harm, its lush keys that appear in the interludes fill you with confidence in the face of adversity.
♣••♣ There is something calming about the whole record. Feeling shorter than its 10~track duration it could ease the pain of DIY or the frustration of gridlocked traffic to fill your mind with welcome happier thoughts.
♣••♣ A lovely return from Howie, it showcases a songwriter who has still got a touch of class despite the break. (Leigh Sanders)
Birth name: Howard Elliot Payne
Born: 5 November 1970, Liverpool, England
Genres: Alternative rock, indie rock, folk, acoustic Americana
Occupation(s): Musician, singer, songwriter, record producer
Instruments: Vocals, guitar, bass guitar, piano, harmonica
Location: Liverpool, England
Album release: 27 Oct 2017
Record Label: Full Stack Records
01 Quick as the Moon 3:10
02 All of These Things 3:30
03 Some Believer, Sweet Dreamer 4:34
04 The Brightest Star 3:32
05 Holding On 3:15
06 After Tonight 2:59
07 Thoughts on Thoughts 3:08
08 Hold Steady the Wire 2:57
09 High Times 2:36
10 Evangeline (Los Angeles) 3:54
℗ 2017 Full Stack Records
Damian Sullivan, October 27, 2017 // Score: 8.5 /10
♣••♣ Damian runs the rule over the new one from the former Stands singer
♣••♣ Liverpudlian Howie Payne is the ex~Stands frontman. His band burnt brightly but briefly during their lifespan, spawning a string of five UK top 40 singles. `Mountain` is the follow up to Howie`s solo debut ‘Bright Light Ballads’, which was produced by Ethan Johns.
♣••♣ “Quick As The Moon” opens the album and it`s quite a melancholic reflection on a platonic relationship. Howie`s voice is wonderfully clear with some nice strumming guitar, piano and even a tambourine being shaken in the background.
♣••♣ Another reflective track follows with the eerie “All Of These Things” before quite a trippy number “Some Believer, Sweet Dreamer” which has some pleasant guitar licks and an infectious chorus of `you can dream on, you can dream on, some believer, sweet dreamer`
♣••♣ “The Brightest Star” is a real upbeat, uplifting tune, a real charming offering. A song that was originally written for Ren Harvieu follows with the laid back “Holding On” a nice mid~tempo paced aria. “After Tonight” is quite a detached come abstract song with Howie`s voice almost layered quietly above the melody, a very reflective song which benefits from some lovely harmonica snatches. A very West Coast sound comes to the fore on “Thoughts On Thoughts”
♣••♣ A great tune that wouldn`t be out of place in a Love or Strawberry Alarm Clock set.
♣••♣ I really loved “Hold Steady The Wire”, it seemed to have it all and for some reason reminded me of George Harrison`s `While My Guitar Gently Weeps`, maybe just the spirit of it.
♣••♣ The penultimate track “High Times” is quite anthemic and really prospers for some great vocal harmonies that fills out the sound. I can imagine this will be a crowd pleaser in a live setting.
♣••♣ The final track “Evangeline (Los Angeles)” is a re~working of a stand out track from ‘Bright Light Ballads’. and kicks off with a shaken tambourine and delightful guitars inflections.
♣••♣ This is another song that seems to wear it`s West Coast influences. A nice piece that had me drifting off in an agreeable altered state of consciousness.
♣••♣ I really enjoyed this offering from a much~underrated artist. I have seen Howie and he certainly delivers in a live situation.
♣••♣ I would put Howie Payne in amongst the same category of singer songwriters that deserve more recognition such as Elliot Smith and Matthew Jay. We can only hope that `Mountain` will be the album that will see people acknowledge his talent and move him out of having just having a cult following.
Words by James Attwood.
♣••♣ After an eight year break spent gathering musical influence from the mellow mundane of real life, Howie Payne is back with his self professed ‘best record so far’.
♣••♣ The result of this is Mountain, Payne’s second solo LP since the dissipation of his previous band The Stands in 2005, which is set for release on the 27th October on Full Stack Records. Recording sessions took place at London’s prestigious Ark Studios during final week of July, whilst the rest of the UK witnessed a heatwave. This in mind, Payne and band still slaved away ruthlessly to produce a well crafted songwriter album, and if anything this added to the atmosphere of the album.
♣••♣ The influence of Americana and the great American songwriters of the 70’s is apparent throughout Mountain. However, this does not necessarily mean that the album sounds dated or appeals solely to the older generations.
♣••♣ Album opener ‘Quick as the Moon’ is reminiscent of the heartfelt, earthy folk~pop of modern artists such as Fleet Foxes and Father John Misty. With its several layers of vocal harmonies, tambourine and subtle upright piano melodies, ‘Quick as the Moon’ lends itself effortlessly to the Americana/Folk genres, as is the case for other tracks ‘All of these things’ and ‘Hold steady the Wire’. The vocal harmonies heard throughout Mountain assist Payne‘s songwriter style arrangements in escalating into grandiose chorus’, similar to those of innovators such as the Beatles and the Beach Boys.
♣••♣ ‘Some Believer, Sweet Dreamer’ is driving by ballsy country guitars and could easily be a single by Neil Young back in his heyday. In a time of synthesisers and programming it’s nice to hear an album that utilises predominantly organic instruments and in particular, the human voice. “But you’re quick like a hurricane, bright like a rising sun…” shows Payne’s mastery of imagery within his lyricism, alongside his clear knack for arrangement and composition.
♣••♣ Lead single ‘The Brightest Star’ is the most commercial moment of the album, with its blend of piano hooks, strummed acoustic parts and shuffle drumbeats that form a clear pop structure and four chord chorus.
♣••♣ But if it’s the lazy rootsy~Americana of Gold~era Ryan Adams that you seek, you will also find plenty to occupy yourself with on ‘Holding on’, a love song that floats along steady and shows Payne‘s band at their finest.
♣••♣ The story is much the same for both ‘High Times’ and ‘After Tonight’. Here Howie Payne is accompanied solely by his acoustic guitar, yet the songs are as engaging as those that surround it. ‘After Tonight’ also provides an effective moment of solitude on the album, whilst ‘Thoughts on Thoughts’ is a modern folk number using traditional guitar melodies to create hooks and layers of harmonised vocal to add an almost medieval sound to the music.
♣••♣ Then, finally, we have ‘Evangeline (Los Angeles)’ — a grand, perfect summary to Mountain, combining layers of vocals once more, yet reverberating electric guitar parts that provide the sonic backdrop for tender picked acoustic guitar.
♣••♣ All in all, Mountain is a joyous and pleasant listen. And although its genre is arguably dated, and some may say holds little relevance to today’s popular music climate, the album is still intriguing to the ear of someone who appreciates music at its core; Mountain carries a wholly organic and refreshing sound. Plus, as I have already mentioned, Howie Payne‘s use of his own voice to create layers of texture brings an entirely different edge to his music — this is also to be applauded and hooked me upon listening.
♣••♣ With an album as well crafted in every respect of the word such as Mountain, Payne fully deserves a place up there with the great songwriters of today.
• Bright Light Ballads (2009)
• Live at the Luminaire (2009)
• High Times, Home Recordings (2016)
• Mountain (2017)
|Howie Payne — Mountain (27 Oct 2017)|