BEVIS FROND – Valedictory Songs (Woronzow)

For his umpteenth album – I lost count after about twenty – Nick Saloman aka The Bevis Frond has produced yet another great collection of rock, pop, and ballads. As time goes on he seems to be honing his songwriting so that this one contains seventeen shorter songs in contrast to some of his earlier albums which were made up of much longer tracks. This means that this album has more variety as he can follow a hard rocker like ‘We Are The Dead’ with the haunting ballad ‘Portobello Man’, and then slip in an almost commercial pop song like ‘Early Riser’. One thing that all the songs do have in common, though, is Saloman’s superb guitar playing, whether it be the searing solos on ‘Child’ and ‘China Fry’, or the sitar-like riff running through ‘Artillery Row’. ‘Sugar Voids’ is a great stomping hard rock track, and Bari Watts contributes an outstanding guitar solo to ‘Can’t Feel It’, making it one of the better tracks on here. Some of the quieter tracks are among his best work, with the tunes being simple yet memorable, and his voice suiting the songs better, and so ‘High On A Downer’ and ‘Back On My Star’ shine out, with the latter even managing to fit in a short solo. The most surprising thing about this album is that, compared to his more recent work, some of these songs are really quite catchy, and while ‘Living In Real Time’ and ‘Old School Rock’ would probably not trouble the charts were they released as singles, if they were just played on the radio a few times they might bring the Frond to the attention of a few more people who are currently missing out on some great rock music.