ANTHONY TONER - SIX INCHES OF WATER

Toner 6%22

Anthony Toner is such a gem of an artist for any community to have in its neighbourhood. Singing and playing guitar most of his life he was in his 40s before everything came together in the making of albums. Call him a late developer but in the last 15 years he has mastered his songwriting craft to darn near perfection.

There’s the guitar playing. Let me start with that because I always thought that he brought in a guitarist but checking the credits to see who I realised that it was the man himself. The playing has echoes of Knopfler or Clapton. I am sure that Anthony would be embarrassed by me mentioning him in the same sentence but listen to Greenway Song and feel the utter ecstasy when the perfect lick hits gently at the perfect moment. 

There’s the conversational singing style. Maybe it is the kind of venues that he has learned his craft but Toner is a consummate story teller and he has this rare ability to sing stories. Yes, everyone always says John Prine but I will name check John Hiatt for this particular review. 

Then there are the songs themselves. Toner has an eye for detail. He has a literary touch with a couplet and he seems an utter natural with rhyme. 

Some dread the concept album because they think Yes and Tangerine Dream. When it becomes a discipline for a songwriter’s art I think it works a dream. For this record, Toner has tightened his vision and written eight songs about East Belfast where he has spent a good lot of his time this last few years. We get a well placed tribute to Hyndford Street’s Van Morrison with a cover of Orangefield and the Arco String Quartet close things perfectly with the hymn that was played as that part of Belfast’s greatest creation, the Titanic, sank. 

Not that for one minute confining himself to a particular place in any way hinders the breadth, height or width of Toner’s imagination. The Templemore Baths and the aforementioned Greenway open pores in body and soul; The 1974 worker’s strike and the World War II Blitz give historical contexts; Sam McCready and a Taxi Driver’s mysterious passenger are among fascinating character’s true and mythic scattered throughout.

In the gathering of all this Toner makes his observations and leaves his wisdom. 

I love the heron on the Greenway Song:

 

“The heron was in my dreams last night

A skinny old ghost of grey and white 

This city needs that kind of bird

Who listens and never says a word.”

 

Or the nephew in The Less It Matters:

 

“My nephew comes to see me every other week

He’s young and fast and has no gift for chatter

He says, ‘You can’t tell where anybody’s from in here’

And I say, ‘The closer you get to the end the less it matters’”

 

Six Inches Of Water is utterly brilliant in just about every kind of way and I personally cannot wait to see how much water they got in the weekly bath in the west, north and BT9! 


STOCKI HOLIDAY PLAYLIST 2021 #1 (week ending July 31st)

Stocki headphones

So here are 20 of the songs that I have listened to most this past holiday week. Holidays give me the opportunity to really listen to an album over and over (Jackson Browne, David Crosby, Joy Odalukon, Anthony Toner) and also pick up tracks that I might miss ordinarily (Dawes, Head and The Heart, Daniel Lanois (feat Leonard Cohen)). I also have an 8 hour Summer playlist that loops in car and house. I have only included one song per album as this week you might get all of Jackson Browne! 

LISTEN on ITUNES

 


JACKSON BROWNE - DOWNHILL FROM EVERYWHERE

The title track from the wonderful new record. Seems a good lead off track.

 

GEORGE HARRISON - RUN OF THE MILL (outtakes and Jams)

I have been reading Womack and Kruppa’s book about Harrison and Clapton and waiting for the 50th Anniversary edition of All Things Must Pass. This one is already out and has been a bit of a spiritual devotional this week. Good questions George.

 

THE WALLFLOWERS - I HEAR THE OCEAN (WHEN I WANT TO HEAR TRAINS)

Exit Wounds is my favourite Wallflowers record and this one has intrigue and a Vigilantes Of Love type feel.

 

DAWES - FISHERMAN’S BLUES

One of my favourite bands do one of my favourite ever songs. Discovered this through Mike Scott on Twitter. Very different. Very good!

 

TOLU MAKAY & RTE  CONCERT ORCHESTRA - N17

Mike Scott’s old mates The Sawdoctors’ classic immigration song with a different feel. What an astonishing song this is.

 

DAVID CROSBY - RODRIGUEZ FOR A NIGHT 

Astonishing new record from Crosby. Pure Steely Dan as it should be as it’s a co-write with Donald Fagen.

 

DEL AMITRI - OTHERWISE

Clever lyric as you’d expect from the wonderfully good Fatal Mistakes.

 

JOY OLADUKON - IF YOU GOT A PROBLEM 

This voice. Oh my. My discovery of the year.

 

NEEDTOBREATHE - CARRY ME (Feat. Jon Foreman)

Really enjoying the more organic sound of Into The Mystery. 

 

BEKI HEMINGWAY - LAY YOUR BURDENS DOWN

I have a few songs from Earth and Asphalt on our Summer Playlist. How good are these songs. Crisp and Crucial. 

 

INHALER - IT WON’T ALWAYS BE LIKE THIS

The Dublin boys shift the body and the head too. 

 

DANIEL LANOIS (Feat LEONARD COHEN) - TORN AGAIN

Leonard Cohen guesting with Daniel Lanois. Oh yes!

 

DAVID GRAY - HEART AND SOUL

Gray’s meditative Skellig has been a favourite this year and this is one of my favourites.

 

DECLAN O’ROURKE - STARS OVER KINWARA

I look out many nights and imagine that O’Rourke wrote this about Rathlin, Fair Head and Glenshesk.

 

ANTHONY TONER - RECOGNISED CODEWORD 

Anthony has me back from the coast in our wonderful and wounded city. Six Inches of Water has ten songs about East Belfast and I chose this one.

 

BRONAGH GALLAGHER - TRUTH OR DARE

Last summer I discovered Gallagher’s voice when she covered The Healing Has Begun for Hot Press’s celebration of Van’s 75th birthday. This one is similar.

 

DEREK AND THE DOMINOES - LAYLA

I have listened to this song for 40 years and missed the piano coda until Womack and Kruppa pointed it out. How?

 

TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS - THIRTEEN DAYS

Loving the bundles of Petty records being released. This JJ Cale cover is on the new Angel Dream, a reimagining of the She’s The One soundtrack.

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART - OUR HOUSE

I love this band so this was a marvellous holiday find of them covering Graham Nash’s love song for Joni

 

URGE FOR GOING - JONI MITCHELL

This is the Blue Sessions demo from the wee EP brought out to celebrate that extraordinary album’s 50 years. This one somehow was never on a Joni album. I have learned to love it this past year. A great way to end a Playlist.

 


DAVID CROSBY - FOR FREE

Crosby For Free

How David Crosby is still alive and looking forward to his 80th birthday on August 18th, never mind being in an incredibly fertile vein of form, is a wonder of the 21st century world? The world is full of wonders that on a daily basis we walk past and take for granted. Let us not do it with For Free.

For Free is Stills, Nash and Young’s former buddy’s 5th record in 7 years. The last one Here If You Listen was like a vocal work with Michael League, Becca Stevens and Michelle Willis. 

Sky Trails before leaned heavily on his love of jazz.  

Its predecessor Lighthouse was gentle song writing. For Free harks back to the first of the five Croz. For Free uses all the angles of these last seven years and nails it better than any of the first four. It seems more rounded, solid and thus satisfying.

It all comes, as so often with Crosby, with a little help from his friends. Michael McDonald fills in for the aforementioned harmonisers Stills and Nash on the opening River Rise.

Sarah Jarosz adds stunning vocals to the time track. That track, For Free, is a Joni Mitchell cover, adding to Amelia and Woodstock on his last two records and gets to the true meaning, nature and purpose of music making.

Maybe the best track sounds like, but isn’t, another cover. If She’s Got To Be Somewhere from Sky Trails sounded like Steely Dan then Rodriguez In The Night is an actual co-write with Donald Fagan. A whole album of such a collaboration would have great potential!

Crosby’s son James Raymond might be the main cause of all of his long lost dad's resurgence. He is all over this as producer, co writer and player. His own daughter Gracie even sings. Does she call Croz Grandpa?

Into all of this Crosby sings about life and mortality. His own mortality is there in the beautiful closing I Won’t Stay Long whereas Shot At Me is a cafe conversation with a veteran who served in the Middle East. He’s doing Crosbian deals with the devil in the fictional story line of Rodriguez In The Night. The utter beauty of The Other Side of Midnight takes me on some boat journey with sailor boy Crosby.

I Think I might be a man with a very colourful life story finding his way or maybe coming to terms with all the times he got lost.

For Free shimmers with vibrancy and positivity. The guitars light it up, the harmonies allow it to soar and hanging all over that are these songs of a world weary human making sense of the life of his generation, most of which he lived in his own broken, messed up, often dark but contradictorily light seeking life of an artistic adventurer.  

David Crosby is a wonder and For Free is wonderful!


MUSIC I HAVE UPLOADED FOR VACATION

Summer Music

Summer vacation for me as about getting those long empty days to listen and read. Here are the records I am uploading for some seriously listening to... 

 

JOY OLADOKUN - in defense of my happiness

My revelation of the summer. Joy’s voice just stand out over everything else I am hearing. Then there’s the spiritual tension and… ah… joy!

 

JACKSON BROWNE - DOWNHILL FROM EVERYWHERE

Always wonderful to have new Jackson Browne thoughts and this one has some excellent thoughts, social, political and relational. All sent out to us in a more vibrant sound echoing his Looking East days. 

 

INHALER - IT WON’T ALWAYS BE LIKE THIS

Bono’s boy and his mates throw down the gauntlet to the older stadium bands with an assured and catchy set of great songs. 

 

FEYE WEBSTER - I KNOW I’M FUNNY. HA HA

Another discovery of July. Webster has the gentlest sound but crafted and full. Hypnotic.

 

THE WALLFLOWERS - EXIT WOUNDS

The younger Dylan sounding more like his dad’s mate Tom Petty than his dad. Showing a maturity of craft and purpose. Strong contender for records of the year.

 

DANI LARKIN - NOTES FOR A MAIDEN WARRIOR

Fresh folk voice with contemporary songwriting twists from a young woman from the Monaghan-Armagh border. Songs of myth and introspection and home.

 

DAVID CROSBY -  FOR FREE

With all his addictions it was surely unlikely that David Crosby should be alive on his August 14th 80th birthday! Defying all, this is his 5th good album in 7 years and my personal favourite.

 

TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS - ANGEL DREAM

The roll out of Tom Petty’s work this past year is most welcome in this house. This time it is a reconstruction of the film soundtrack She’s The One as if it was a full on Petty & The Heartbreakers record. Wonderful addition to the Wildflowers stuff.

 

ANTHONY TONER - SIX INCHES OF WATER

 

Anthony is such a great lyricist and has just made a record entirely inspired by East Belfast. Just out I am so looking forward to exploring my city in these songs.

 

DEL AMITRI - FATAL MISTAKES

A reunion with substance. Del Amitri return nearly two decades later as if they were back in 1993. Loving it.

 

KINGS OF CONVENIENCE - PEACE OR LOVE

First record in a longtime. Still that modern version of Simon and Garfunkel that chilled vacations need. 

 

AMY WADGE - KEEPING FAITH

I’ve been aware of Amy Wadge since she played Greenbelt as a member of the Hummingbirds. These are three EPs from her songs on the fabulous Welsh TV drama Keeping Faith. Strong songs.

 

COUNTING CROWS - BUTTER MIRACLE SUITE ONE

So good to hear Adam Duritz’s voice again. Strong storytelling and imagery as ever. More please!