Adam Stafford (album launch) at Hug and Pint, 20/3/16

A lesson learned; let tonsillitis strike no man down.

Our troubadour is thus afflicted from a trip to the frozen north the night before. but delivers a virus-defying and deeply impressive set to mark the release of Taser Revelations on Song, By Toad Records.

It may not be a revelation in itself – it merely affirms the prodigious talent so evident on that record – but it certainly is subtly unique and immensely pleasurable.

The latest album by this veritable polymath – his nascent film-work is highly worthy of inspection – forms the bulk of the set and is chucked out with tight vivacity.

Those last two words are a highly apt descriptor for the music itself: performing with producer (and support tonight) Robbie Lesiuk, there may be soaring poetry to the cascading melodies, but there’s also a scratchy tautness that never lets things get away with themselves; well-fitted blue shirt and tie, well-tailored yet utterly accessible music from someone with a sophisticated and complex ear.

Using self-sampling and looping to build up layers of sound there’s a percussive edge to the guitar and twanging bass that keeps thing in a line that allows waterfalls to sit atop some eventually thumping grooves; blousy, it is not.

The nervous energy of tracks like ‘Railway Trespassers’ have a grip that has far more in common with the production of electronic music than it does with previous generations mucking about with more ‘rock’ instruments… such as these things mean anything anymore.

Enthralling stuff and a welcome juxtaposition with the amiable stage presence, easy charm and rapport with the audience.

That word ‘alchemy’ crops up in the notes and it is not misplaced; whilst others may have a similar ear for melody it needs discipline to shackle it to almost militaristic precision; not easy… Adam Stafford has it.

We even have a healthy dose of human beatboxing which, by any standard of cultural acceptability, should probably be illegal but, inserted in here on the fly, just works.

Every tune is lapped up by a cheerfully enthusiastic crowd prone to the odd wolf-call; to say nothing of the frothing excitement at the prospect of a television series, “Gash in the Attic”, being put forward from onstage at one point; heck, I’d watch it.

All of this is to say Adam Stafford is an extremely talented yet self-effacing man; the live incarnation begs for a bigger stage and larger audience and the album remains the first solid marker for best record to come out of Scotland in 2016.

One lives to regret such statements as the latter of course but, without being starry-eyed, it’s just all rather marvellous.

Emotive voice, dreamily driving sounds, an ever so light touch with chiming melody and rock solid and highly creative production – what more do you want?

Words: Vosne Malconsorts

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