Yesterday threw up a fascinating musical juxtaposition. The Stockmans went for a quick ballet point shoes buying trip to Dublin. Post purchase my three girls wanted to explore Henry Street malls and as we walked I was reminded of Dublin’s busking tradition. The quality is always top notch. I had forgotten.
Once I remembered, my memory banks went back to a summer day in 1993. We were on Grafton Street and two young Dubliners, David and Kevin Connolly, had teamed up with a young northerner called Iain Archer. The crowds grew ten deep, the punts were being healthily tossed into hats as these three lit the place up with great brotherly harmonies and excellent Archer guitar work. Sometimes Archer's brother Paul would join in too! They could throw a few comic shapes these boys too. I smiled at the memory.
Back to our car with ballet shoes, dresses and make up purchased we started heading back out of Dublin. I smiled again. On the car stereo we were listening to Hudson Taylor. Here was a record of two brothers singing harmonies and if you listen carefully you can even hear… yip that very same northerner Iain Archer playing guitar and in places bass, piano and keyboards too.
I am smiling again. Twenty years between Connolly's and Hudson Taylor but it was uncanny and I then remembered a comment that our friend and mentor Andy Thornton shared as advice for Iain way back then, “Stick to your sound and when your sound becomes the sound that is in, then you will be ready!” Smile! The only thing missing were those Connolly boys now exiled in sun kissed California!
The lazy reviewer might see Hudson Taylor as two young men with high cheek bones and a very instant accessible sound and therefore foolishly dismiss this as simple pop. They need to listen again. It is carried by the blending of Alfie and Harry’s sibling voices. It is the Everly Brother’s sound with fifty years of music’s maturing. With a little studied listening you eventually catch the complexity beneath the seeming simplicity. It is the variety of how they use those voices. Every song takes another way to use their rich flexibility and versatility.
I can see why some might set it alongside Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers with that organic busking beat and loose feel. Yet it is much less folksy, and not a banjo in sight, which all means these boys won’t need such a radical shift in soundscape for their third album. All in all this is an infectious collection of pop songwriting. It has taken all the busking of those Dublin streets and made it into a record full of smile after smile.