GREEN PAJAMAS – 21st Century Séance (Hidden Agenda)
This album by one of my fave US bands is the companion piece to last years ‘Ten White Stones’, which was a ‘live in the studio’ celebration of their 25 years in the business. This release is the more standard studio album, with a wealth of great new material from Jeff Kelly and Eric Lichter. ‘The Secret Of Bethany’s Mouth’ opens in fine style, with a hard rock riff starting off one of Kelly’s enigmatic songs. Eric Lichter contributes more songs to this album than on previous outings, and the first of his offerings is ‘Jenny V’ – a tuneful little song with a rather strange sax intro, and with Lichter’s slightly weaker vocals making it sound just a little out of place. ‘Salome’ is more like it, however, with some intriguing music from the band and one of Kelly’s story songs based on the Biblical story of Salome. ‘Like A Memory (Blue Eyes)’ is the first track to hark back to the powerful feel of ‘Ten White Stones’, with the band coming across all ‘heavy rock’ and Kelly providing a subdued Neil Young-style guitar solo. ‘The Black Guitar’ has a haunting quality to the vocal which enhances the spooky feel on the song, while the orchestral arrangement and subtle guitar fills on ‘The Haunted Hill’ all add to the atmospheric feel of the song. ‘True Lover’ has a lyric based on an A. E. Houseman poem, and is Laura Weller’s turn to take lead vocal on her own composition, while Lichter’s ‘Chip Chop’ is an upbeat tune with a catchy melody. ‘Gazelle’ is another class Kelly track, which along with ‘All The Lost Kisses’ harks back to the band’s best work on their late 90’s albums, while ‘Pale As The Dead’ uses a waltz rhythm and farfisa organ to give it a 60’s garage feel. The album closes with ‘Mostly Alice’ – another haunting ballad taking its inspiration from literary classics, this time Lewis Carroll’s Alice. This is another disc that can rightfully takes its place in the Green Pajamas catalogue of superb albums, and I will have to resign myself to the fact that they will never have that break which will bring them to the attention of a wider audience, with just me and a handful of other fans acknowledging their brilliance.