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  For What feels Like Forever
Artist: Iain Archer
Label: Indie
Length: 4 tracks

Iain Archer is without doubt the greatest living musical talent to not have a record deal. Now that could sound like someone raving on in subjective journalistic sensationalism but though I have a subjective love for this manís music this is very simply an undeniable objective fact. There is little doubt that had Scottish label Sticky Music had the financial resources Archerís 1995 single "Wishing" would have made him a household name. Archer is probably delighted it didnít as its pop catchiness would not be representative of his ability as guitarist or songwriter but it is an example of how he has just always missed the big breakthrough.

2001 is a better time for the Archer sound. David Gray, Badly Drawn Boy, and Ed Harcourt among others have brought the male singer songwriters, who donít want to be labelled singer songwriters for some bizarre quirk of semantics and fashion, to the fore. Truth be told Archer could out write, out play and out sing any of them, in fact has been for some years. Why do they have deals and he hasnít. Perhaps a lack in drive on the commercial end of what he does or maybe even an artistic failure ­ heís just too good. The Bangor boyís problem is that he has found it very hard to harness his ability to be folk, country, pop, rocking, indie, alternative, or experimental. Caught unsure of which direction to go because he has gone all of them has maybe not been in his favour.

His latest privately released ep, For What Feels Like Forever, the first recorded work since 1997's Revelation Bell reveals a new sense of focus. It also sees him beginning to roll all the genres into one. The deftness of his acoustic playing lies alongside the edgier electric ring, though the latter is always more threatening than pouncing on these four songs. Add to this new third millennium sonic splashes and looped percussion that has its own sweet aural thrill and you have the perfect foil for Archerís greatest strength ­ melody. Like some musical snail this man leaves a trail of silvery shining memorable tunes. His voice has never been too bad either and here he could be a young McCartney or even Neil Young or both melted into one.

"The Shadow" and "Pressure Drop" are the songs here that push the envelope and will have those most familiar with his Crazy Bird and Playing Dead albums most intrigued at the reinvention. "Mirrorball Moon" is simply his best song to date. It is done so slow and movingly -the delivery, the mood, the lap steel, the tenderness, the beauty and yes, yes,  yes - the melody.

As a release for Greenbelt and live gigs it is likely that Archer has maybe even better boxfuls of songs up his sleeve for the record company smart enough to sign him in the coming months. "I Was Drinking And You Got Me Drunk" from recent live gigs is a case and point. But in the meantime as a taste - this is intoxicating stuff. He plays everything and his production skills are simply stunning.

Steve Stockman 9/15/2001

(and wait for the labum - there are not enough tocks!!!!!!!!!!
 
 

Steve Stockman is the Presbyterian Chaplain at Queens University, Belfast, Ireland, where he lives in community with 88 students. He has just finished a book on U2 - Walk On; The Spiritual Journey Of U2, is the poetic half of Stevenson and Samuel who have just released their debut album Gracenotes and he has a weekly radio show on BBC Radio Ulster. He has his own web page - Rhythms of Redemption at http://stocki.ni.org. He also tries to spend some time with his wife Janice and daughters Caitlin and Jasmine.

 
 
 
 

 

   
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