David Sinclair Four
The current David Sinclair lineup has some trump cards ready as they prepare to release this new set of songs, namely a great sense of definition and purpose, honed musical chops from road-testing this material PLUS the strength of the compositions. Ten tracks that have a distinct flavour or atmosphere and no filler…this is likely their finest hour thus far.
Sinclair Snr is on lead vocal and guitar, son Jack on drums / percussion, bass in hands of Jos Mendoza and latest recruit Geoff Peel on guitars; their collective bite is evident from the off as they launch into ‘Sick Of Being Good’ which finds David wrestling with the need to be a good egg, all the time.
Most intriguing cut for me is ‘The Click-Clack Man’ which is based around the (actual or imagined ?) search to meet Tom Waits, creator of his own quasi-hobo / eccentric myth. They say you should never meet your idols, but my own experience has and almost exclusively been to compound the standing I have given them having enjoyed their work or performances. I would cite Buddy Guy, Stephen Stills and Susan Tedeschi as artists who carry themselves well if you treat them with respect. Waits is definitely an influence on Sinclair, who as a journalist has met many performers and composers. Therefore the wish to talk to Tom Waits is understandable, not least to nail the meaning or inspiration of favourite songs.
The stark and blitzed social carcrash situation described in the blues-soaked ‘Life Gone Cold’ has biting and despair-marinated lyrics delivered in half-deadened style against angsty guitars and over a solemn tempo. A real bullseye of a song and already a key stage inclusion ; ‘Crude Emotion’ has a purposeful rock chug and a scathing lyric by Sinclair on his penchant for night life and excesses..or is he adopting a persona ?
Meantime ’Down By The Canal’ features an appearance by reggae royalty in the form of Maxi Priest, no less. The guitars are airy and just so and the cut is a welcome change of pace, with fine dub bass. Again the group paints a picture of urban life.
‘World Turns Around’ has some distinctive Paul Jones harp over a loping beat ; On ‘The Illness and The Cure’, Sinclair treads a delicate path over another tale of strife and Peel strokes ringing chords from his guitar, curiously catchy.
‘Give Me A Rose ’ is a robust tune and a good example of what goes in in this ensemble..you can spot the influence of the US Paisley Underground greats in the mood of the song..could be a Green on Red or even a Dream Syndicate number, however it still sounds so London. ‘ Coming Out Of The Rain ’ is a dreamy co-write with Lorna Reid who also sings here and it works, the band adapting to the necessary tender delivery. It almost sounds like vintage Fairport Convention.
This collection doesn’t provide straight blues or country or rock’n’roll but rather songs taking in elements of all roots musics and using them for this music of the metropolis. This is city music, as Sinclair agrees in a ’20 Questions’ piece we are also running on this site. He has never really bought my contention that the material he creates has echoes of the great Tom Robinson Band but this set reinforces my view that he is a similar artist in some ways AND has a similarly punchy electric band to play the songs live. Sinclair is a sonic Hogarth, painting pictures and telling tales that whilst not wallowing in the darkside are nonetheless not trying to be sunshine pop. Hence any tender moments are enhanced, a facet they share with The Faces in their heyday.
So what is this music ? so steeped in American electric influences but at the same time so very English…..’ Anglicana ‘ ? …but no, it’s metropolitan in its erudition and execution. If it’s gritty songs delivered with punch and wit that you’re after, DS4 is your stop…..