Just last week, I was exploring the promo CD section of an independent record shop in Soho and I came across a copy of Habit – the debut EP by new act Dead Flamingoes – aka singer /songwriter and session guitarist James Walbourne (Pete Bruntnell, Pernice Brothers, Son Volt, The Pogues, The Pretenders and Jerry Lee Lewis) and vocalist Kami Thompson, the daughter of folk duo Richard and Linda Thompson.
I hastily parted with my money for it, as I’d read rumours online about the partnership and was eager to hear the fruits of the collaboration (James’s solo album The Hill was one of my favourite records of 2011 : http://sayitwithgarageflowers.posterous.com/top-15-albums-of-2011)
Well, I’m glad to say it was worth every penny. Recorded in Edwyn Collins’s West Heath Studios in North West London (Collins produced and engineered it, too), Habit opens with a rollicking sea shanty called The Jealous Sailor – James’s guitar whipping up a salty sea spray of a tune. The song also name checks ‘Portsmouth’ which could be a first in pop – that’s if you ignore Mike Oldfield’s instrumental called Portsmouth, which, to be fair, is good advice.
Next up is Hold Your Fire – a ghostly folk-rock track that recalls Fairport Convention -Kami’s vocals remind me of Sandy Denny’s. It’s a dark tale, written and sung from the perspective of a lover whose partner has committed suicide, thereby effectively ending her life, too: “You killed yourself and promptly murdered me… before you fed your neck through the noose, did you fashion one for me?” Chilling stuff.
On a (slightly) lighter note, the gorgeous Bonnie Portmore is a traditional Irish ballad which laments the loss of Ireland’s oak forests, while the title track (Habit) is a love song with a ramshackle, campfire feel, that sounds like it’s the sort of tune that’s been around for years, handed down from generation to generation and sung in taverns on dark winter nights: “Sinking like a ship on a stormy sea, my poor heart breaks in two.”). Listen out for the woozy guitar break half way through – it’s simply delightful.
There’s no doubt about it, the Habit EP is seriously addictive.
Habit by Dead Flamingoes is out on AED Records on April 28.