Oswestry Station 1 December 2012
About 40 souls braved a frosty night to gather in a very cosy Oswestry Station Building and enjoy an evening of contemporary folk music from Norman Lamont (accent on the first syllable) and Nathan Ball.
Norman has been singing and playing around the Edinburgh area for many years. I first met him in 1976 when we were both at Moray House College of Education. I don’t think he would ever describe himself as a ‘folk musician’. He lists his influences as Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, Robin Williamson, Mike Heron, Robert Fripp, Brian Eno, David Bowie, The Beatles, John Cale, Bob Dylan, The Handsome Family, Richard Thompson, John Martyn and Joni Mitchell – quite an eclectic list. The music on his CDs ‘Roadblock’ and the compilation ‘Anywhere but here’ is full of lush and complex arrangements, sometimes melancholic, if that’s not too strong a word, but leavened with wit and humour. I wondered how these songs would work with just a voice and acoustic guitar. I needn’t have worried. The songs are strong enough to cope in a pared down setting. They were delivered with great panache and charmed the audience. I particularly liked the haunting ‘Come with me’ and ‘The Ballad of Bob Dylan’ is a very funny song. (Full review)
Anywhere But Here reviews
Norman Lamont comes to the airwaves from Edinburgh, Scotland. He has been playing the songwriter scene since 1990 earning his fan base one song at a time. His latest release, “Anywhere But Here”, does not disappoint with an eclectic mix of thought provoking tunes that spin in your head like a vivid dream.
This CD is a compilation of songs from Lamont’s previous projects spanning from 2004 to now. It opens with, The Desert Was Better”, which sets the mood for the things to come. The crowd pleasing hit, “The Ballad of Bob Dylan” is amongst 12 other tracks that are nestled in with numerous other pleasers from his past.
Sounds like the songs have found a nice home. Each ballad adds to the other and they play one by one as you sink deeper and deeper into Lamont’s world. He has included the best of the best spilling out haunting stories with an atmospheric ambiance. His music seeps in your ears and takes over your soul. It is an extremely mellow vibe that relaxes you into a gratifying state.
While in his world the melodies allure you to listen carefully to the lyrical content. Each song has a blissful tale of contemplative life lessons, love lost and yearning. He pours his heart into his musical pursuits and it is revealed through whimsical productions and a solid mix of prosody between his words and music.
If you are looking for something original unlike anything you have heard before, look no further. Norman Lamont is a hidden secret that needs to be shared with the world. I enjoyed the journey this CD took me on and feel compelled to expose the talent that Lamont so naturally creates. “Anywhere But Here”, is not only beautiful music, it is also a tale of talent galore. Some people have “IT”, that “IT” that no one can describe, but you know it when you hear “IT”.
I’m sure that Norman Lamont is fed up with reviewers drawing witty comments by making cheap comparisons with a badger browed, incompetent, politician of the same name. The only thing they appear to have in common is the blues, though here one delivers in the musical genre, the other delivers the blues via incompetently enforced interest rates.
“Anywhere But Here” is actually a compilation of tracks from his previous releases, “The Wolf Who Snared The Moon”(2004), “Romantic Fiction”(2005), “Romantic Fiction2″(2006) and “Roadblock”(2008), the title track being specifically recorded for this compilation, whilst the other tracks are remastered.
Now I must confess that until I had a copy of “Anywhere But Here” drop through the letterbox, I hadn’t really come across Norman Lamont, which is predominantly explained by geography, Lamont is based in Scotland and the previous releases being in the home region, this is an album that will hopefully get him to a wider audience with a showcase of what he’s capable of.
In the opening paragraph I used the word blues, but that is only a small part of the story and sound, it’s an influence on the sound, but then so is jazz and alternate rock. As with the likes of Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, Bowie and Dylan, an artist Lamont pays tribute to in “The Ballad Of Bob Dylan”, Norman Lamont is writer that draws out the requirements that the song needs, rather than tie himself to a specific genre and that’s something that gets magnified in a compilation.
“Anywhere But Here” is a good calling card, Norman Lamont has definitely moved into my consciousness, he can pen a decent song. This is an artist that can reach out to and entertain a wider audience and this may well be the key to that door.
Ayrshire-born, Edinburgh-based maverick Norman (pot-pourri poet, not prickly politician!) could be Scotland’s answer to Leonard Cohen, albeit with a wicked sense of irony.
Third album, the reflective Roadblock, sees the former Hungry Ghosts singer come of age, throwing sombre songwriting (example Dorothy’s Book) into the baby’s blues-tinted bathwater alongside the cod-reggae of I’ll Be Back. Whether Cohen-esque, comic-esque or credit-crunch-esque (£2 a time to see him!), Lamont trades bundles of doom and despair from a heartfelt perspective and is well worth a punt. (Martin C Strong – The List)
Norman Lamont (don’t, he’s probably sick of it) is a well-known singer / songwriter on the Edinburgh acoustic scene, and Roadblock is his third album, released on new local online record shop SecretCDs.co.uk. It’s a work in debt to the 60s and 70s, particularly the languid guitar and hushed vocals of Dark Side of the Moon. Fans of Leonard Cohen or Nick Cave’s Boatman’s Call era will find solace in the moody depths, and title track Roadblock, as well as one called Anywhere But Here, are reminiscent of the dark dramas of The Doors. Lamont proves himself to be an accomplished mood-setter and lyricist, with the overall effect one of quiet, rueful reflection. If all this seems a bit gloomy, there’s a bit of skanking to raise the mood on I’ll Be Back. If this sounds like your thing, Roadblock is well worth budgeting for in these times of economic crisis. [Euan Ferguson – The Skinny]
Sid Smith, blogger and King Crimson biographer
There are some albums which hit you straight between the eyes from the first note and others which slowly worm their way into your psyche. With its reserved and understated performances, Roadblock is definitely in the latter category. Sleeper or not, glorious moments creep up and dazzle you with their uncluttered brand of consummate balladry.
Not to be confused with the pugnacious Tory chancellor who famously sang in the bath whilst sterling collapsed about him, this Lamont is an Edinburgh-based songwriter.
A crisp production presents acoustic-based songs laced with some dreamy slide guitar, arctic Lanois-style trimmings and some gorgeous violin flourishes and arrangements. Fronting it all up, Lamont’s voice trembles within the skin of bittersweet melodies that is reminiscent of a nasal Ray Davies, and it’s this likeable fragility which delivers the chills on a run of three standout tracks – “Dorothy’s Book,” the epic ambitions of “The Spell” and the darkly sublime “Anywhere But Here.” These 16 minutes (plus the deliciously gloomy ruminations of the excellent title track) shows Lamont to be a songwriter of depth and imagination.
Only the frankly baffling inclusion of reggae-based clunker “I’ll Be Back” and the ill-fitting strut of “When I Came Home From Egypt” distort the otherwise brooding atmosphere which Lamont creates throughout the rest of the album with such care and attention.[Sid Smith]
Adrian Whittaker, freelance reviewer, promoter and music historian
Since his last album, Norman’s clearly been working on his sound –his confessional, intimate vocals are set against a much broader instrumental backdrop featuring everything from string arrangements to ukuleles.
I Want To Know, the questioning, intimate opening track, segues smoothly into a nice bit of Frippertronics at the end. We come down to earth with the next song, When I Came Home From Egypt, in which the protagonist is the kind of loser hero beloved of Steely Dan (think of Rikki Don’t Lose That Number). I like the self-deprecating humour and the local references (‘now the glass falls out the windows as I walk down Princes Street’). For Roadblock, Norman’s close-miked vocals achieve something of an old blues singer vibe; the soundscape has a suitably swampy, Daniel Lanois feel. Best Of The Blues is one of Norman’s poppier compositions which you could imagine on a Simply Red album – great melody and harmonies. The tale of I’ll Be Back is narrated by a rather cheerful but annoying ghost (’in some kind of transit lounge between the realms of existence’) set to an engagingly upbeat ska rhythm. Great bass line.
Things are either black or white ‘with no discretion’ in Dorothy’s Book, but rather than criticising this polarised world view, the song goes for an elegiac feel which made me think of those early Velvet Underground ballads – Candy Says, maybe. The Spell is a mysterious ballad with elements of a murder mystery about Jeanie Marshall who ‘went to meet an old schoolfriend’ and ‘was never seen again’ while the protagonist ‘left home a broken man’. It’s the vehicle for some of Norman’s most soulful vocals to date, but at 7.31 it outstays its welcome.
Like the first track, Anywhere But Here finds Norman questing again: ‘If I have a destination, at this point it’s still unclear.’ Appropriately, his lyrics are backed by another of those Time Out Of Mind Lanois-scapes where you can almost hear the hoot-owls. Come With Me, the final track, finds Norman invoking his muse and weaving some delicate Frippertronic textures on guitar.
Lyrically and instrumentally, Roadblock is another step forward for Mr Lamont. It’s about time someone signed him. [Adrian Whittaker, freelance reviewer and music historian]
(Reviews of other albums are on their respective pages.)