Richie Syrett - Commit No Nuisance
Owain Paciuszko 23/11/2009
Belying the thoroughly British brickwork album art comes the opening alt-country Americana sounding guitar licks of Times Long Past, the lead track of this 10 song strong debut LP from Manchester based singer-songwriter Syrett. His vocal - introduced with a cough - has an American accent that winds up depositing him somewhere alongside Ryan Adams circa Heartbreaker. Syrett has done an impressive job putting this record together independently and the arrangment, especially the backing vocals, on this lead track is particularly strong.
Easy has a sparser, country sound with a slow-toe-tapping rhythm and after the strong opener seems a little inconsequential. Mondays Always Come balances a pleasant musical sound with a grumpy lyric; 'I'll be dreaming more and be thinking less/Wages paid and I piss them all away.' It feels like a slacker refrain from a middle-of-nowhere high school movie. Thinking about Syrett as a UK artist can become his undoing, as it feels a little false when he plays Americana so well, it's kind of similar to how Gomez lost favour over on these shores whilst building a large following across the pond. Syrett works best if you just pretend he is the latest middle-America alt-country export.
There's a nice drift from the Bright Eyes-lite Out Of Sight, Not Out Of Mind into the muted, bitter swagger of Painting By Numbers; 'I'm going to spend some time upon the floor wishing my weeks away.' Though, somewhat disappointingly, it doesn't really go anywhere, content to continue at the same emotional and musical pace throughout. American Mud meanwhile finds Syrett in fine voice, and obviously this track has more that just a slight nod to the U.S.A. Lyrically it is as peppered with references, both geographical and political, as much of Ryan Adams' Gold. No Flies On Me is a last hurrah before the somewhat languid closing track I Am My Everything, though squirreled away there's a 'hidden' cover of The Rolling Stones' Honky Tonk Women.
A larger part of what keeps this album stalling at the gate is that it doesn't shift pace much, each track segues easily into the next and whilst none offends or grates, it has a certain lazy quality that can cause certain songs to almost pass you by altogether. Syrett is a very talented singer-songwriter, and manages to tread just on the right side of paying 'homage' to American folk music whilst retaining some semblence of his own voice.