Cliff Howard is a singer songwriter, originally from London, now living in rural North Wales who recently released his debut entitled Spiritual Town. For a guy who was raised in London this album sure has a lot of music from American bands. The songs have a classic American vibe - warm, fun and a couple ticks away from Tom Petty.
Spiritual Town is a DIY effort and for the most part has great production. My only complaint is that he uses too much reverb at times. A general rule of thumb is that if you notice reverb unless it's more for a specific effect than you are using too much. Well, I have to admit the reverb was noticeable to my ears which came from an accumulation from the instrumentation and vocals. To his credit this is an aesthetic that is of course subjective and just a preference.
The album opens with the slightly bluesy/country title track. It’s an upbeat, fun song featuring some solid lead harmonica and catchy vocal melodies. Howard sings, “The whiskey bars and fish fin cars I’m never coming back / I’m going down, I’m going down, I’m going down / To my spiritual town.”.Don’t miss the sax towards the end. Great stuff.
The next song “Flood Street Blues” is a bit more solemn and serious. It actually reminded me of Pink Floyd with a slight country twang. I realize that sounds odd but I think you will know what I’m talking about if you take a listen. “Help Me Get It Right” is straight up Americana. No if, ands or buts about it. It’s one of the catchiest songs on the album.
Howard continues with success on songs like “Waiting For The Dream” and “Impossible Times” which feel like clear tips of the hat to music that has come before. One of the highlights was “Columbus Avenue” which is smooth and features more sax that feels a bit sensual at points.I also have to mention that slight Pink Floyd vibe is in there somewhere. “One More Time” is a classic surf rock Beach Boys style song and another standout track was “All Messed Up.”
I can’t say Howard is the most original artist to emerge in recent memory but he does have some skill in the songwriting departments. If you are looking for warm songs which induce a sense of nostalgia Spiritual Town may be your ticket.
We are dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We critique a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
Are you one of our faithful visitors who enjoys our website? Like us on Facebook