White Wail Records (label)
17 October 2011 (released)
17 October 2011
Airways Mansions is the fourth studio album by Bedfordshire based and multitalented Chris Corney. Its first single release, the excellent ‘America’, has been reviewed already and it is my pleasure to review the remaining album too.
As predicted, the album contains ten tracks of Americana inspired sweet melody and country-pop-rock – full of raw emotion, pathos and longing.
‘These Bones’ is mellow-paced with a gradual build-up to a harmonious chorus – more in the line of power pop and with only a few prominent guitar riffs. Any song that still sounds engaging if stripped to the bare essentials is proof that its composer is worth his salt. This is a well-crafted song and, let’s face it, there aren’t many tunes about that can hold that kind of magnetism. However, one tune that does spring to mind (although poles apart as far as the lyrical content goes) is perhaps ‘Disembodied Voices’ by the Finn Brothers.
Third track ‘Say Nothin’ At All’ is one gear up and once again features a strong melody as well as instrumental arrangements that never take over, or distract from Corney’s crystal clear voice.
We’re still in the land of power pop with ‘In Control’ – this is a bit of an oddity as it displays all the hallmarks of classic alternative pop rock except the distinctive retro-synth sound towards the end. You’d swear the two would never go hand in hand, but they do, oh yes they do!
‘Without Love’ is much in the vein of the aforementioned (sans retro-synth) though it’s not a track that stands out for any particular reason.
Enter ‘Little Marrakesh’, a track that does stand out for several reasons. It’s also my favourite number on the entire album (first reason). Although a love song about a guy waiting for a girl’s call on a cold and rainy December day, lines like “sweet like cinnamon in Little Marrakesh… sweet like sugar down in Little Marrakesh… wait for the good times and the good times may wait for us” conjure up dreamy images of warmth, sunshine and exotic temptations (second reason). Beautiful melody, beautiful acoustic guitar, minimalist arrangement and a killer hook, it IS as addictive as cinnamon and sugar (third reason). Just like with certain herbs and spices, I can’t get enough of it and god knows how many times I’ve listened to the song by now. And no, I’m not wee high while penning this, just high on sugar…
Next comes ‘Bella’ – another winner (and prospective next single release) with some Tom Petty inspired riffs and an energetic chorus. There’s also a fair bit of Dixie Chicks ringing through on that – think of their fabulous, Rick Rubin produced ‘Taking The Long Way’ album. ‘The Desperation Show’ spits out the most poignant lyrics – the song is a cynical look at the nation’s increasing fascination with tabloid fodder, Reality-TV and the willingness to do almost anything for 15 minutes of fame.
‘Wedding Day’ is a bittersweet and twisted affair – just like any observation about wedding days should be – musical or not. It has a great beat to it and is laced with some damn fine riff work.
Finally, ‘Woke Up In The Sun’ greets me just as I’m about to wrap this review. Well I didn’t actually get to bed last night but look, the sun is shining outside! This is a mainstream, rock-orientated number closing an album – or welcome a new day – dominated by guitars and then some more. It also has a strange background voice in the song’s second half (albeit briefly), though I’m unable to make out whether that’s radio waffle or a voice distorted by the magic sound machine. I must be tired.
Singer, songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist and on/off Quireboy Chris Corney has delivered an accomplished and impressive album. Backed by equally impressive talent such as Tom Welham (who worked with Gabriella Cilmi), Keith Weir (The Quireboys, Down ‘n’ Outz), Tasha Baylis (Glass Pear) and Luke Tuscherer (The Whybirds), Airways Mansions should be compulsory buy for anyone who appreciates the finer things in life, including quality music!
(Please read my interview with Chris Corney in the ‘Music-News Interviews’ section)