James Apollo - No East, No West

posted 12 Oct 2009, 08:03 by Harry Cooke
[NoAlternative]
Released: 5th October 2009


"No East, No West"
 begins with a mournful soft drum and strolling double bass. The tempo is measured: a slow dance at midnight in a shady bar, drunks slumber on the beer-stained tables. This is the last song on the jukebox, there is nowhere left to go. A man holds his love on the ripped linoleum dance floor and whispers false promises. It is a transient place. A place for the broken hearted; those who have yearned to be good, yet languish under a bad sign. James Apollo draws us into this twilight world of troubled pleasure. Regret hangs in the air like spirals of tobacco smoke, hope is an empty beer bottle discarded under a bar stool. Still the dance goes on. 

We are coaxed out of melancholy by the yearning lyrics - 'Where she sings I'll go and I'll know...' The possibility of dreams is raised, yet this is fleeting - 'Ain't no east, aint no west, its only a leaving...' Again we are gripped by sadness only to be warmed by the soothing balm of the music, that softens the bruising sorrow of the gritty, whispered vocal. I am sure James wears his musical heritage on his sleeve - Tom Waits' epaulettes, the cuffs of Leanard Cohen. This is not the breaking of new ground, however, James' lyrical personality adds a whole new spoke to the songwriting wheel. We are privileged to share this man's musings.

The second song on this two song ep is called 
'Its Not The Night'. Here, there is a pace and urgency propelled by the brushed snare and gospel piano. James sings 'Its not the night that brings me down, its the days you're not around'. There is a sense of effortlessness, an ease with the push and pull of the daily grind. The night will always bring the chance of new friends and if not, then at least the comfort of a 'drinking hole, pills and alcohol'. We are conscious of something familiar and timeless in this track, a wry, subtle sense of humour. There is no need for crass instrumental bluster, all is held in check with a loose hand: the song is beautifully poised.

These two songs, highlights from his upcoming album 'How Hard A Heart Can Be', represent a maturing Apollo; a man at one with his craft and in tune with his band. Less is more....

8/10

Simon Micklethwaite



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