Adam Norsworthy, normally plies his trade as a significant part of the excellent blues-rock band The Mustangs. With ten albums to their name he is no stranger to composing and playing as the Mustangs tour regularly and those albums rely on original material rather than loading up with covers. His solo albums, including this latest one, The Circus Moon have always been a very different beast to the Mustangs fare. On this latest release you can expect a more laid back, relaxed and a kind of troubadour approach to the music. In fact, on some tracks I find myself imagining that this would be what Dylan would sound like if he could sing…controversial I know, but I always love Dylan songs more when covered by other artists. Adam’s talent to weave stories and paint pictures with lyrics is, once again evident, as is his ability to take the mundane, the modern or the past and write a song which makes you truly listen to and appreciate the lyrical content as much as the music.
The album does have a theme and to quote Adam, is based loosely on the restless night of a lost soul. “We all have those nights when you just can’t get to sleep, and everything from your love life to your work keeps you awake, and you end up questioning and going over things in minute detail, til the next thing you know the birds are singing and you‘ve been awake all night.” More intriguingly, the title also refers to the state of the world… “Folklore says that under a full moon some of us turn into werewolves. Well, there must be a circus moon up there now as so many of us have turned into fools and clowns. I’m no exception”. I for one, wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment. Only one other musician features on this album: Amy Heggart contributes some on-point, emotional violin while Adam plays everything else!
The opening song, Everyone Round Mine, is a perfect example of his lyrical nous: “If life’s a prison and you’re dying to break free from Social Media, Reality TV, I want you to come round mine” Apart from hitting the nail firmly on the head, he wraps it all up in a folk style that is very Dylanesque. It still has a catchy beat and quickly draws you in even if, like me, this isn’t the usual colour of normal listening. The violin and electric guitar expand the sound and makes sure you will be singing this for…ever! Healing Hands is song of loss, described beautifully across a clever musical background and a short but tasty guitar solo. The only criticism I can level is that the drumming is a little pedestrian and borders on simplistic, but I can easily forgive that: after all Adam is playing them as well. Jobtied And Boatless is a mystifying title that seems to boil down to a plea to escape from everyday drudgery. The whole thing is so clever and it’s Bowie like construction and execution (plus a delightful guitar solo) is fascinating. Rome is a little weak compared to the rest with its poppish structure and despite the wonderful playing it just feels a bit empty to me. The next track, however, will wipe that thought…Let Your Red Hair Fall starts with an acoustic guitar that, if it were the 16th Century, this would be totally at home. The lyrics are magical and the harmonies work very well…think Moody Blues playing Blackmore’s Night! This has atmosphere by the bucket load and then at the three-minute mark, he delivers an electric guitar solo that is pure genius. Mary’s Song is a folk song with acoustic, violin and bongos again generating atmosphere as Adam sings of love. Tip Toe introduces a more eclectic closing sequence to the album with a pop song feel with the violin sounding almost synth-like as Adam again hits his hidden Bowie. Hard Luck Saturday is fairly upbeat while the lyrics are less so: another poppish feeling but in a latter-day Beatles way. When The Sun Goes Down has an almost orchestral feel to the acoustic chords and a fine picked intro and middle section with plaintive violin washing over. The closing track, Rollercoaster, is more Beatles pop in approach mixed with a Kinkish intro. The electric guitar interjections lift it to a very high quality 60s feeling and, if production techniques were this good then, it would sound like it came from the charts of that imaginative time. The best of the lot; for me at least.
If you want an impeccably played and produced an album of folk/pop/rock to relax to with ingenious lyrics included, then this is one for you. It will certainly get a hearing from me when I want to kick back, drink wine and really listen rather than just hear.
NINEdoodle paws out of TEN …
- Everyone Round Mine
- Healing Hands
- Jobtied And Boatless
- Let Your Red Hair Fall
- Mary’s Song
- Tip Toe
- Hard Luck Saturday
- When The Sun Goes Down
Adam Norsworthy: everything except the violin
Amy Heggart: violin
Co-Produced by Adam Norsworthy with Wayne Proctor (House of Tone)