A change is as good as a rest, the old folks say. And on that basis I’m rather nicely refreshed by this effort from Danny Vaughn.
Got to be honest, I know not the Danny Vaughn fellow. Nor Tyketto, the melodic rock outfit for which he’s apparently well known as front man. Well shit, I never said my knowledge of all things rock was encyclopaedic, did I? Check the small print on the left!
Whatever, Vaughn touches quite a few bases on Myths, Legends & Lies, and to good effect too. Right out of the gate there’s a swarm of acoustic instrumentation on ‘TheShadow Of King John’, with fiddle, accordion and acoustic guitar combining over a rattling Celtic rhythm from Rhys Morgan, leading to a boisterous stomp of a chorus as paints a picture of modern day – Limerick? Now, I’m quite partial to a bit of ‘Fisherman’s Blues’ style jiggery-pokery, but lest you’re worried this sounds like an over folk-ified Aran sweater jamboree, rest easy that this opener, like the rest of the album, sounds fresh and modern.
|Danny Vaughn checks out the recipe for Irish Stew|
There’s more of this ilk with the brief and to the point ‘Man Or Machine’, which welds some contemporary subject matter about sodium skylines and the blind watchmaker to mandolin, acoustic strumming, and paradiddles. ‘Last Ride Of The Sunset Men’ mines a similar seam, but with an electric guitar lick at its core and wafts of harmonica for variation, and is good enough to overcome a rather corny spoken interlude. This stuff peaks with the maritime storytelling of ‘Seven Bells’, which runs to seven minutes, and is worth it. Announced by the ubiquitous acoustic guitar, it grows by way of a swaying melody and lush, impressively arranged strings, into something with an epic sweep that reminds me happily of Jethro Tull circa The Broadsword And The Beast. Well, a bit at least.
At this point it’s worth saying that across the fourteen tracks on offer, Vaughn’s vocals are top notch – clear-toned, with an excellent range and clever variations, but always capturing the mood and never going over the top. The man is the real McDeal.
There’s some jazzy bluesiness too – or should that be bluesy jazziness – in the form of ‘Deep Water’ and ‘Something I Picked Up Along The Way’. The former is a dynamic affair that builds from a subdued opening until a rousing chorus hoves into view, underpinned by blasts of horns. The latter is even better, in a very ‘New Coat Of Paint’ kinda fashion, with smoochy horns curling over Nigel Hopkins’ piano like cigarette smoke in some late night basement bar.
The other big highlight is ‘Monkeys With Money And Guns’, a much funkier affair founded on warm electric piano, organ, and electric guitar, while Vaughn weighs in with an appealing vocal, neatly double-tracked at times, laying out some caustic lyrics. And for good-measure there’s a nimble guitar solo, and a smile-inducing bridge full of soulful harmonies and handclaps.
Sure, there are a few songs on here that are of a modern country oeuvre that might ordinarily make me wince. But Vaughn and co even deliver these in such a fashion that I can’t bring myself to dislike them. Honest. Whether it’s the bright and breezy ‘The Good Life’, swingingly celebrating simple pleasures with an organ solo and a squelchy electric guitar break, or ‘Kelly’s Gone’ with its fiddle filigrees and rippling piano as the lady in question packs up with “Whatever the Toyota could hold”, Vaughn and chums put some fizz into what could have been dull vin de table in other hands.
I liked Myths, Legends & Lies. I’ll listen to it again. I might even go so far as to find out what this Tyketto mob sound like.