The push and pull of "progress" can make it seem that an album has to be an immersive, multimedia commentary on economics, the environment, racial politics, or any number of complicated social themes of the convoluted world we're living in. And while there will always be space for the ambitious art statement, not every record has to be uber-serious and "important." After all, we're musicians and music lovers.
Part of the reason we love music so much is it offers a reprieve from the mile-long list of life's problems, which just seems to get longer, as the days go by. Music is where we turn to just feel okay and have a good time which, could be argued, is an important revolutionary act all on its own.There is something to be said for somebody picking up a guitar, and writing the best songs possible, capturing them to the best of their means, with whatever tools they have at their disposal.
Squeamish Dish is the debut album from Newquay, UK's Reuben Leivers, a prodigiously talented guitarist and songwriter. Leivers plays glam-y, efficient rock n’ roll, captured nearly live, at home, on an old-fashioned Boss multitracker. Sounds were recorded live with a minimum of EQ and compression to give an authentic, fly-on-the-wall glimpse into Leivers' universe.
Leivers' method of songwriting and recording is not hi-tech or hi-fi. There are no gimmicks at work. There is no slick digital sound manipulation. Instead, it's just the sound of wood and steel strings, electricity and guitar pedals that Jimi Hendrix could've used in 1967. That's not to suggest that Leivers' music is old-fashioned, either. Instead, he is focusing on the song, and what is required to drive his blues rock to the next level of intensity.
There is just something pure about hearing someone rip a wicked Flying V guitar solo over a solid rhythmic bedrock like on album opener "Let It Slide." It's like, "What does this song need?" How about a badass, virtuosic instrumental freakout?!? If we were to be honest, how often is that the best answer, especially if you're trying to drive a roomful of rockers into sweaty frenzy?
The fact of the matter is, if you like classic, blues-tinged rock n’ roll, you are likely to have heard something like Squeamish Dish. Leivers is not reinventing the wheel here, nor is he trying to. If you're someone who needs to hear something entirely novel and unique with each album, you'd best look elsewhere. If that is the case, however, you're likely to have a frustrating listening career, as most music is at least referencing something you've heard before, but putting a fresh spin on it.
Squeamish Dish is the sound of a basement practice space on a Saturday night, the sound of weekend taverns across the universe cast in dim neon light. Some might say it's low-brow, unimportant, but it's not. It's using music to express and enjoy yourself, which is one of its most essential functions. Squeamish Dish is not a perfect record - the recording can be a bit muffled for some hi-fi purists and quick, dismissive listeners might not be as awed by the obviously technically proficient multi-tracking at work here. But it's their loss.
Here, in the tailwinds of 2015, I'd like to offer encouragement to everybody out there to work on expressing themselves, making whatever honest, personal music they want to make. Work hard to master your instrument(s), and get your recordings to sound their best. In 2016, I'd like to see the "if you built it, they will come," potential of our interconnected world reach its fruition. The idea of trends and progress and innovation and keeping up with it all is what's drowning our world in vomitus garbage. Forget it all, and just the music you want to make. The people who want to hear it will find you.
An excellent start from a talented and dedicated musician and songwriter.
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