Blue blooded Plymouth boy Louis Eliot has certainly managed to unshackle himself from his former Brit-Pop incarnations in Kinky Machine and Rialto. 'Kittow's Moor' sees Eliot, and his newish band, The Embers, follow up Louis's own solo album of 2004, 'The Long Way Round'. Now a contented Cornish man Eliot has rooted for a more traditional, homely and warming brand of pop tinged folk as his musical medium, rather than the swagger and cockiness of his youth.
The West Country would appear to have suited Louis and the band. Mike Harding's a fan, Mojo gave the album 4 stars and descriptions have varied between "True pop genius' and "Sharp lyricism" right through to "Rustic charm and urban cool". Kittow's Moor should be an album I'd like. In years gone by it might even have been one I'd have taken a punt on, without hearing a note. Sadly, if I had, it would have turned out to be a mistake.
Kittow's Moor starts off promisingly enough and has all the right ingredients in the mix. The songs of Ferris Wheels, bully boys, bottle rockets, Dodgems and skimming stones are all set to accordions, flutes, mandolins and acoustic guitars. Rather like a less passionate Men They Couldn't Hang with a hint of Squeeze, sadly the humourless bits, Kittow's Moor continually disappoints and each song never quite realises its potential. Some come agonisingly close, but the majority are mediocre.
Having given the album a fair degree of chances it is always at track 6, 'Ember In The Ash' that I lose any slight notion that I may come to eventually like Kittow's Moor. I know it may all come down to what is probably a very picky, "get a life", "are you kidding me", some might say, insignificance, but I can't get past it. Ember In The Ash is sung at a pace where you find yourself second guessing the lyric. What joyful rhyming couplet will Louis treat us to? What lyrical gems await us?
"I gave you a bracelet for you to wear..............................around your wrist....
(So why has he told us wrist? We almost know it's not going to be ankle because although it would be original he's unlikely to refer to either Chaz Jankel or rankle, so...why? ........Oh no, Oh no, please don't tell me the only reason he's mentioned where she's to wear it is so that he can rhyme it with kissed? Is it, is it? Well, not quite, but....)
"And you gave me your brown eyes, your black hair.......................and a wine soaked kiss."
I know, even reading it back, it doesn't look that bad, of all the turgid puerile plastic pop that oozes forth like an unending bilge pump, Louis is Shakespeare in comparison, but I still can't get past it, sorry Louis. Elsewhere, Paper Plane being the prime example, Louis & The Embers songs are sung in a fashion resembling that of the headline act they are about to support. Sounding like a discarded Thea Gilmore song is not necessarily a bad thing but instead of ............."I love you like the dancing dust, I love you like the static, I love you like the tarmac loves the kiss of morning traffic" we get the slightly more mundane..."Feel the warmth of the Sun beating on your back, See the glistening rain on the black tarmac." There are, unfortunately, no apparitions on Kittow's Moor.
If you were headed down to the Filly & Firkin for Friday Folk Night, partaken of a few Dog Bolters and Louis & The Embers struck up a tune I dare say you'd be humming them all the way home having had a jolly pleasant evening. You'd be unlikely to wake up in the morning and buy the album though. A fine appetiser they may prove to be for Ms Gilmore but a little more fine adjustment is required if Louis & The Embers are to surpass the status of your favourite pub band.