17 Jan 2015

Dodson And Fogg "And When The Light Ran Out"

Reviewed by Grey Malkin (The Hare & The Moon)

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The New Year brings a new Dodson And Fogg album and what a fine way to start 2015. A collection of songs that Dodson mainman Chris Wade describes as 'exploring themes such as home, people upping and leaving whether they be passing on or moving away, for new lives and new beginnings and leaving things behind', it is certainly a reflective and ruminative (though not always restrained) recording. Featuring a smaller cast of contributors than is usual with a Dodson album, though notably brother Andy Wade is present as is regular sitar player Ricky Romain, this is Dodson stripped back and perhaps more nakedly emotional than previous. Yet it is clearly a Dodson record in heart and soul, which is a very good thing indeed.

"We Are Going Home" opens the album with warmth, a gentle acoustic paean to where the heart lies, Wade's Barrett-esque vocals and regular impressive "Forever Changes" style guitar runs twisting the song clearly into psych territory. "Shine" continues the trip down the rabbit hole; tabla, mandolin and some 60s guitar stylings framing the song with hazy, dreamy intent. Effortlessly catchy and melodic, this is classic Dodson. Instrumental "New Autumn" adds Georgia Cooke's flute to provide a nostalgic, sepia feel not unlike the instrumentals Nick Drake flavoured "Bryter Layter" with. There is definitely a melancholic edge at play here, more of a sense of weighing up and reviewing of life. "I Know The Way" ups the pace significantly with a mandolin and guitar stomp, punctuated with molten bursts of lead guitar. It's exhilarating and layers the track expertly with brimming tension. "Straight To The Sun" returns to the more wistful vein of the album, flute twisting and turning around Wade's Kinks-ian melodies. Piano notes waterfall across the baroque setting, an autumnal anthem. "I Never Want You To Go" begins with melodica before quickly developing into a finger-picked psych beauty, xylophone cascading down the Spanish flecked guitar runs to create a lysergic and sunlit gem. "What You Looking For?" is a downbeat, folk-tinged piece of sombre reflection and sage advice for the song's protagonist. "Down Down The Rain Will Fall" mixes electric and acoustic guitar with handclaps and a Ray Davies cynicism to great effect, ably demonstrating why Wade is quite simply one of the UK's current foremost songwriters. Indeed, given Dodson's prolific output and the extremely high quality control he employs there is a case for Wade to be much more highly lauded than he is at this moment in time; the man deserves serious acclaim and recognition. As if this was not enough, he is also now introducing other essential acts via his Wisdom twins imprint; from this source came The Moon Band's debut single only a few weeks back.

"Way Out In The Cold" is a classic Dodson piece of tense pop mastery, minor key guitars jabbing and shifting under a chorus that will stay in your head for days. "My World" is a Jagger/Richards style eulogy to being an individual - all garage rock guitars and dark attitude. Next, "Sister Storm" begins with the sound of rain and thunder before mandolin, piano and sitar transports it into another time and space altogether. Part "Riders On The Storm", part raga freak out, this instrumental gives a good indication of the breadth of Dodson's imagination and ambition. Whilst there is a discernible sound to the band, they can never be accused of being predictable, there always being twists, odd corners and 'what on earth' moments (in a good way!) on any Dodson record. Similarly, album closer "And When The Light Ran Out" begins with dread filled dramatic stabs of violin before settling into a delicate Eastern psych nugget, sitar shimmering over some of the finest chamber pop you will ever hear. George Harrison would be proud of coming up with this one.

It cannot be repeated enough; Dodson and Fogg are a national treasure. Part of a musical linage of Ray Davies, Syd Barrett and Julian Cope, Wade is a truly gifted and unique songwriter. Their (now) extensive back catalogue is a well of psych jewels for the uninitiated. For those in the know, we have another classic Dodson album and for that we are thankful.

Available now with beautiful sleeve artwork by Dodson regular Linzi Napier.

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