One man with his acoustic guitar and a few endearing additives along the way to add to the potency of the emotive endeavour, A Good Way To Bury Bad News the new album from Mark McCabe is a thoroughly accomplished and often magnetic presence with the folk heart of a continual ballad and the occasional outbreak of restrained melodic rock. It is an easily engaging release which reinforces the potency and stature already earned by the Scottish singer songwriter and though it is hard to say it is offering anything dramatically new it has an individual presence and emotive strength which at times sets a stirring spark within the passions.
The melancholic and often dramatically emotive lyrical thrust of his songs as on the album are said to come from the Aberdeen hailing McCabe’s lonely days at University where he first began writing songs with his acoustic guitar. He recorded debut album Is That Really How You Feel? in 2009 and spent plenty of time playing around mainland Europe, for which he relocated to Paris, in its support. Shows with the likes of Frank Turner, PJ Bond, Asptai, The Flatliners, Chris T-T and many more followed before he returned to Scotland in 2012. Sold out shows with again Turner came next as well as festival appearances and a tour with Oxygen Thief before undertaking a US tour down its East coast with After The Fall, Anchors, and Antillectual. Using 2013 to concentrate on writing and working on his second album, McCabe now unveils the Cats? Aye! Records released A Good Way To Bury Bad News and it is confident to say fans and many more will be elated with its craft and skilled temptation.
Released January 20th with a European tour to support its arrival, the album opens with the thirty second or so Summer In Scotland Is But A Word. Plain and decent it sets the climate for the Scottish landscaped melancholy set to consume and inspire ahead before the following Doubts emerges from its closing to continue the emotional reflection. The track makes a coaxing start but soon elevates its pull with thumping beats and a stringed breath which is soon soaking the tale with magnetic shadows. A brewing intensity raises its call as the song progresses, the rhythms sturdier and military in combat to add greater tension and enticement the longer the song plays, whilst the vocals of McCabe are strong and expressively powerful to further the potency thought it is the seduction provided by the violin of Gillian Ramsay which steal the passions predominantly in what is an impressive and compelling song.
Easy For Me To Say with its country twang and skittish rhythms makes an immediate impression rising to another absorbing incitement, the Scottish lilt of McCabe’s vocals enjoyable alongside the again violin provoked stroll which eagerly breaks out from within the emotional angst. For personal tastes when McCabe brings in extra flavours and sounds whilst lifting tempo and intensity simultaneously, the album catches fire but that appetite is never quite fulfilled, just individual teases brought to a solemn end by songs like Crutches. This is not to say that the skilfully crafted and presented track is carrying any real faults, just lacking the same spark but again it is down to personal wants and needs primarily.
The lively Catch The Wind with a bordering on feisty element to everything from the drums of Sam Henley and electric guitar of Matthew Morris alongside McCabe’s acoustic prowess, scoops up the emotions and appetite in its refreshing melodrama soaked hands. It has an air of fellow Scottish artist Letters to it and provides one of the highlights of the album with its folk rock/pop excellence. The irresistible lure of the track is matched by its successor Welcome Party, a less rampant but still energetically enthused ramble through heart felt and shadowed doused thoughts and emotions. Both tracks draw the imagination and personal thoughts deeper into the album and thus into the same elements of McCabe, providing further reason to be fully enticed by the release.
The trio of This City And I Have A Lot In Common, That Time I Almost Killed Martin, and Being Lost Presents You With A Better Chance Of Being Found lets the keen impetus of the release and reactions slip though not one of the three is a proposition to find any real faults with; again it is just that missing fuse and kindling for the same enthused responses as spawned by the previous pair of songs. It is clear though that each provides an emotionally coloured canvas that will find a hunger waiting within folk and melodic songwriter bred passions.
The best song on the album is the irresistible My Disguise Is Better Than Yours though it has to be said, and surely by mere coincidence, the track is at times a very incestuous cousin to I Melt With You, the Modern English hit from the eighties. Nevertheless it is an infectious and captivating slice of rock pop which provides melodic bait and fiery energy which simply sets those awaiting passions ablaze. A definite single of the future, it is the perfect temptation for the album
The closing Join The Crowd is a final piece which sounds like it was recorded on the local bar stage; a union of voice and nagging guitar bolstered by strong group vocals and harmonies including those of Grant George who often provides great backing vocals across A Good Way To Bury Bad News, leaving a lingering allurement on the ears. There is very little to put up against the album to temper all the positives and persuasions offered except those singular things to this reviewer, something not really relevant as you assess whether to take the plunge. Mark McCabe provides an engaging and personal view into his music and life, an invitation to be honest we can only recommend trying.
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