Soulscript, There By Now (Nobody Big) / Mimi Burns Band, Ballade of Ned Haywood both CD
(30th October 2002)

I was filling in a reaction sheet the other day. It was for a self-released record by a one-man kind of band who’d scraped enough money together to put a bunch of songs on a proper CD with a proper sleeve and everything. This is the kind of band you know try hard, probably play a lot of gigs in local pubs, get written about in their local paper and send off demos to all the major labels and Mojo. The disc was average in the main with one wonderful track, a mishmash of mistuned guitars and slurred vocals riding roughshod over each other, stuffed in about two-thirds of the way through. I wrote on the reaction sheet that there was a gem buried in amongst the journeyman songs, but it was a case of having the time to find it. I wasn’t trying to be cruel. The band wasn’t so bad that I’d have walked out of the pub when they were playing, but I wouldn’t have rushed inside after hearing them on the way past either. They were just a good, decent hard-working band with one corking song that they weren’t really doing justice to.

Records like that one come in all the time. Two are on the pile right now. In Mimi Burns’s case the gem is Sorry, one short song with more emotion than the rest of her album put together, with sparse instrumentation and a kind of built-in audio spotlight. I put it on and everything apart from the anguish in Mimi’s voice and the gently picked guitar is blacked out. The rest of the LP is solid enough but nothing you haven’t heard plenty of times before, played by a bunch of good musicians like they’re filling in a painting by numbers. Soulscript’s record is also decent – highly competent countryish bar-room entertainment – and to the band’s credit, they signpost the way to the best track by making it the title of the album. Musically, it’s effectively a rewrite of half of Neil Young’s Harvest, but There By Now is still a classy number and an album full of songs like it would be a great record indeed. But this isn’t it.

In general I’m getting less patient as time goes by. But something in my head still forces me to give a decent chance to everything that lands on the doormat. Even the most unlikely of prospects gets a fair crack of the whip. I can’t understand what this compulsion is. I haven’t got more time as I get older – work (real work, the day job) is taking up more time than before and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change in the near future – and I’ve got more records than ever to listen to, but still I plough through every single one. Ultimately it means that I find tracks with the beauty of Sorry and the quality of There By Now, but it doesn’t do much for the speed that this zine gets written at. www.soulscript.com www.mimiburns.com


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