Something different ... an album review Dry And High by Hightown Pirates
The truth - just like you, just like me - is never that simple
As we jump through the hoops and try to untangle all those lies …
Who are Hightown Pirates? As they steer their ship through the choppy waters that make up the tangled lies of life, this talented collective of musicians are here to take you on a voyage of discovery. Vocalist Simon Mason (pictured with me, right) has long been a writer – songs, blogs, books - but only in the last few years has he made song writing his focus. A published author who performed his memoir as a one-man show to great acclaim, in 2016 he toured with Peter Doherty, reading extracts from his book and performing songs. This led to an offer of paid-for studio time to record an album. Mason made some calls and gathered together a band – and thus Hightown Pirates were formed. They rehearsed and recorded an album, then played several gigs at venues across the UK bringing their sound to the attention of a wider public. Dry and High, their debut album, is released on Strike Back Records next month.
I really, really like this album. I listen to a lot of music, and whilst I do enjoy many new bands I often feel stuck in the past because nothing comes along that, for me, is good enough to stand up to the stuff I’ve been listening to since my sister made my first mix-tape for me at the age of seven. This year though, Dry and High is going to be the sound of my summer. It’s the album I’ve been wanting to listen to all my life without really knowing it.
The album opens with an acoustic guitar and a velvety, melodic flute leading you into the swirling melting pot that you will inhabit for the next 50 minutes. It is well balanced, with a variety of styles and tempos. It has a bellyful of passion and soul and, like all good albums, clearly draws on a number of influences whilst remaining original and true. The musical performance is skilful and has a fantastic quality while Mason’s lyrics are - as I expected, having read his book - honest and expressive. His vocals are animated and both female vocalists are strong, complementing Mason exceptionally well.
More often than not, and somewhat bizarrely, the third song on an album is my favourite and ‘Last Chance Saloon’ is a definite contender for that here; a stomping, urgent number with energetic injections from the horn section that play right into your heart.
The opening to ‘East London Morning’ is kaleidoscopic and sparkly, with an ethereal flute riff cutting through the harsher guitar lines. ‘Throwing Stones’ is rootsy, folksy and gritty, and will be a great live number, whilst ‘Just For Today’ has all the qualities of an anthem - uplifting, delicate and grand in equal measure.
Whether you are alone or with friends, blasting it out loud while dancing round your living room or listening through headphones while on the bus, this is a fantastic album to listen to. In their own words: meet Hightown Pirates, your new favourite band.
Go and make friends with them now.