Moi Et Mon Camion
In a world choked with X Factor cast offs and torpid Blunt-a-likes, it's never been harder to get a foothold in the dog-eat-dog fastness of the singer songwriter. True, every year there are exceptions - the most notable recent additions to the cadre being Richard Hawley and Simon "Cherry Ghost" Aldred, but at times it feels like you can't move for doe-eyed would-be troubadours carrying just a battered guitar case and a laptop studio full of dreams.
Conrad Lambert has more good reason than most to sing about dislocation - Moi et Mon Camion opens as he faces up to the prospect of eviction - but as Merz he carries with him a great deal of expectation, feted in some critical quarters as the British alt-folk equivalent of the ultimate pied piper, Beck. On this evidence these comparisons are hardly fair to either as Lambert clearly lacks the American's magpie ear, but on the gossamer Silver Moon Ladder he brings a lustrous post modern sheen to Nick Drake and elsewhere on the likes of Cover Me and The First And Last Waltz there is a pastoral simplicity which is more country lane than bypass.
All is not quite bucolic perfection however; as when Lambert attempts to shift tempo - as on the rootless Lucky Adam - the results awkwardly underline an evident lack of versatility. Leaving our modern day predilection for artists as chameleons aside however, there's still more than enough invention here to confound Simon Cowell and guarantee another round of ecstatic hosannas from Guardian readers everywhere. Critical eulogies and commercial success rarely go hand in hand however -unless you're from Sheffield or Oxford - and despite Moi et Mon Camion's admirable bravery it's unlikely to benefit Lambert's bank balance enough to help him put down a deposit in the near future. This though may be to our benefit, because the loss of his muse to the consumerist world of widescreen televisions and espresso makers would leave our musical walls closing in just that little bit further.