Tony James Shevlin – Songs from the last Chance Saloon

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While we still have our fake folk/acoustic acts masquerading around with Jake Bugg and the likes, there are still proper folk/acoustic acts to be discovered and admired, and Tony James Shevlin is one of these. Having wrote songs for R.E.M and The Troggs along, with having Elvis Costello’s Attractions as your backing band, Tony has come forward and created a stripped down album full of honest songs.

Songs from the last Chance Saloon is an album that takes the very basics from what makes good album and compiled them together. No it may not be fancy and have flashing lights surrounding it, but it cannot be denied that at the core it’s a very good album.

The storytelling in each song is a key factor that makes this album appreciable, with ‘Faith in Myself’ and ‘Heart and the High Moral Ground’ being perfect demonstrations of what Tony is capable of with his song writing talent. The strong vocals along with the simplistic yet effective melodies provide a perfect bed for these lyrics, as Tony delivers them well with a slight bit of pain behind them.

Songs like ‘Nobody’ and ‘Champagne Taste’ could easily be linked to Dylan and possibly Lennon, as the songs seem to rock from side to side and don’t drop the pace. These songs mix well with Tony’s slower adventures, as they show versatility and genuinely make a nice change.

‘Cut Me (and I’ll bleed like any man)’ is the best on the album, and could have easily been the song to close the album off, as it has that goodbye-quality that the last song needs to have. Tony’s piano work is impressive, as he once again provides an ideal setting for his painful vocals to linger on top. The song seems to stem from an honest place with a lot of truth, which comes from the reliability of the song.

The album rolls through ‘Paradise South Ealing’, ‘I wish you well’ and ‘Crying for 15 years’ as if they were sewn together, as they have this natural blend. ‘I wish you well’ is memorable one with Tony fingerpicking, and shows that he’s not just a one trick pony.

‘Run Until we drop’ ends it all, although it’s a fun ending that leaves you smiling, I sort of wish that ‘Cut Me’ was the one to end it all, as it just seemed fitting.

As stated before the album is honest and harmless, as it opens up and lays these songs out in front of you, and with them being delivered so well, they’re hard not to like. Unfortunately, it won’t be breaking any rules or catch the ears of the entire nation, but it has provided us with another album to admire and listen to on a long Sunday drive.

6.5/10

Words by Alex Wise @al4563

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