OUTSIDE MY MIND - NED ROBERTS
LCM ALBUM OF THE WEEK
Release Date: 24th March, 2017
Genre: Acoustic, Singer-Songwriter, Folk
Location: London, UK
Record Label: Aveline Records
After Ned Roberts' excellent self titled and critically acclaimed debut released in 2014, we were looking forward to more music from this very talented London based singer-songwriter. His latest release 'Outside My Mind' doesn't disappoint. It is a collection of self penned songs released by the excellent Aveline Records who stable include artists such as Ani DiFranco, Ruth Theodore, Linah Rocio and The Goat Roper Band.
The album boasts excellent high quality and pure vocal from Ned combined with perfectly complementary stripped arrangements. Reflective, heartfelt, melancholy and bittersweet...but with a feeling of hope for the future. It exists in spirit in the original Laurel Canyon and Greenwich Village of the late 60's, while remaining true to its modern London roots.
Not long after writing his first songs, Ned was discovered by producer Luther Russell (Sarabeth Tucek, Richmond Fontaine, Noah & The Whale) and brought to Los Angeles to record. The pair have since developed a close creative partnership. In 2015, Ned returned to Los Angeles to record, once again with producer Luther Russell at the helm. The resulting album, 'Outside My Mind' expertly mastered by John Fischbach (Stevie Wonder, Carole King) – is striking, showcasing a greater confidence in both his material and voice, adding an Americana expanse to the folk foundations of his eponymous debut. Delivered with a poetic turn of phrase, excellent musicianship and a perfectly judged vocal sensibility, these songs sit comfortably amongst the classics of the Laurel Canyon era.
Ned is joined by some excellent musicians on the album including Luther Russell (Drums, Electric Guitar, Piano, Backing Vocals), Jason Hiller (Bass & Double Bass), Sarahbeth Tucek (Backing vocals), Eli Pearl (Pedal Steel) and Luanne Homzy's LA Pop Quartet. The album was recorded in the Electrosound Studios in LA.
Evoking the glory days of Laurel Canyon, the album opens with the sublime 'Drifting Down'. Echoing excellent singer-songwriter such as James Taylor, Jackson Browne and John Mayall. This is music to get lost in. Beautifully stripped 'Through The Arches' finger-picked acoustic guitar, little brushed percussion and subtle double bass and piano arrangements. Contemplating life on a crisp bright day of winter. The reflective ballad 'Hazy Days', is a love that is on the wane. 'No more pages thumbed and torn. Tired words and worn out days...again.....Don't you want those hazy days. You can show me the way. Hey, let's follow the sun. Down round the earth and sit in the sands and not give a damn". Lovely interplay between acoustic guitar, piano and Ned's vocals.
We take a trip to Islington for our next track 'Angel Station'. Which finds Ned standing in the rain waiting for his girlfriend. Unfortunately for Ned she is an hour late. "I'm sorry that I'm late again, but why are you standing in the rain?" she says. "Why don't we go somewhere new. Meet me tomorrow with all you need" Ned replies. Hopelessness and resignation in equal measure. With a short harmonica intro 'Letter Home' continues the personal and reflective theme of the album. "The rain don't bother me. I'm used to Northern skies". The pedal steel on the autobiographical 'Ribbon of Water' adds a firm Americana feel on the track. A lovely metaphor here with a ribbon of rain trickling slowing down a window picturing a slowly drifting life. "Gotta take a chance. Quit messing around. I'll be in the west coast sun. With the roof right down". With a gentle and retro arrangement 'Song For The Ending' continue the theme of the album. Reflective and sombre, contemplating life and its cycle.
The lead single and our favourite track on the album is the stunning bittersweet break-up song 'Lights On The River'. Full of feeling, emotion and reflection this is a great showcase for Ned's music and was our LCM Track Of The Day back in February.
Once again gentle harmonica and soft picked acoustic guitar introduces 'For Moira' another tale of lost love. 'I was crestfallen baby. You're my birdsong in winter. You know I'll miss you when you go.' The album closes with the title track 'Outside My Mind'. It's winter and raining again. Maybe this is the happy ending the album has been working towards. 'I was hit by the blast of a storm. Black nights, white dawns. Most of the I was outside my mind. I needed the night to crawl back inside........Let's not cease from striving. Never stop from searching. Until we find ourselves back where we began. I want to know you for the first time'