Archie Brown - A Weakness of Mine - 2014
Those who know Archie Brown from post-punk skirmishing with The Upset, his days leading the belligerent, no-nonsense soul attack of The Bureau, or even the latter-day outings with GI Blythe, would be prepared to stand up in court and give witness statements evidencing his status as one of the UK's great larynx-lacerating soul voices. Yet even some of those would be surprised to learn that Brown is not only about soul passion, sax-shredding and Telecaster attack.
His sporadic appearances fronting The Young Bucks, whilst demonstrating that the old soul embers continue to glow and smoulder, see him embrace a mellower vibe amid some still-thrilling rock n roll tunes. On A Weakness Of Mine, it is the less-frantic side that predominates.
Occupying the territory somewhere amid the complementary genres of folk, country and, of course, soul, A Weakness Of Mine betrays the album title. It has none. Driven by Pat Rafferty’s almost ever-present swelling accordion, counterpointed by piercing Bradley Creswick violin and viola, this is a constantly-beguiling collection of fine tunes, thoughtful lyrics, passionate, meaningful delivery and outstanding musicianship.
A Celtic folk feel predominates, most notably on ‘This Town’, ‘Can't Get Used To It’ and Pat Cunningham's ‘Tara Shore’, remarkable songs in themselves but beautifully enhanced by Creswick’s strings and Brown’s ability to inhabit the song, adding credibility to powerful lyrics.
Although Rafferty provides sterling support across all twelve tracks, a particular highlight is the languid, pastoral accordion-bedded ‘English Rose’.
There’s a touching and gently humorous tribute to Robert Ward, a Young Buck taken before his time, and in ‘Bit of Paper’, Brown even leads a joyous banjo-driven hoedown.
But it wouldn’t be an Archie Brown collection without the passion. Whilst the sax stays firmly in its case, the title track, ‘Low Life’ and the country-tinged ‘Temporary Arrangement’ demonstrate that even in mellower mood, the fire still burns.
The affectionate sleevenotes, written by long-time friends and collaborators, Rafferty and Tony Wadsworth, pay respectful homage to Brown the writer and interpreter, and are a fitting illumination to the contents of a delightful album.
01. Just a Little Weakness
02. This Town
03. Can't Get Used to It
04. Tara Shore
05. Low Life
06. Temporary Arrangement
07. Bit of Paper
08. English Rose
09. Nothing Personal
10. Robert's Songs
11. Dixon Street
12. Time For Bed