Crossing over genres at will, sometimes in Americana, sometimes in straight Country and with a rocky touch occasionally, Simon Stanley Ward clearly makes the music he wants to, rather than embedding himself in a single form.
And the end result is rather good.

A lot of his lyrics verge on the surreal and you find yourself constantly trying to work out where this or that reference came from – but since he plays as many shows on the comedy circuit as he does on the Folk/Roots this isn’t a shock.

Right from the opening number ‘Jurassic Park’ he hits a strong pop/punk groove, very much in the New Wave stylee, or then you get the more abstruse ‘WOW!’ looking into interstellar visitation.

The playing throughout is excellent, none of the band seem to be lacking in chops with some superb guitar from Paul Lush and strong bass lines from Geoff Easeman and subtly effective drums from Neil Marsh.

Everything comes together brilliantly on the delightful ‘Beluga Whale’ – sung from the point of view of the whale – and showing a distinctly paranoid point of view of his place in the food chain. I love the chorus “I’m a beluga-luga-luga whale, I shoot water out of my head when I want to exhale” and the whole song has a gentle but strong groove to it.

If Country is more your bag then you get ‘I Heard It All’, discussing a bad voicemail or ‘Stand Up’ with a Mexicali edge to it.

It really is all about the lyrics, clever and sardonic but with tongue firmly in cheek.

If you haven’t heard him before Simon Stanley Ward, with or without the Shadows Of Doubt, is a fresh and very listenable talent. Worth making an effort to discover.