Fine Lines – Hour of Need

Album Review | Parade Recordings | Review by Damian Liptrot | Stars: 3/5

Before I start, I shall have to declare an interest – I like Fine Lines and looked forward to the release of this, their debut album with a fair degree of anticipation and on initial listening was not disappointed.  However, in the interest of fairness and objectivity, Hour of Need was shared with the sternest critic of my musical tastes and when she not only approved it but encouraged a replay, then I felt my belief was justified.  “Fine Lines” is essentially the distillation of the musical loves and influences of David Boardman and operates with a floating line-up based around a core membership the guitar/vocals of Mr Boardman, the complementary vocals of Zoe Blythe and the keyboards of Gary O’Brien.  The remainder join as and when the situation and the venue demands or allows and the album reflects this fluidity of scale within the songs themselves, whilst still retaining an essential ‘Fine-ness’.  At the heart of the sound is classic acoustic rock, spanning both American and British exponents of the art and for nit-pickers everywhere, takes in some Canadian influence, with a majestic version of “I Shall Be Released” that owes more to The Band than to the solo artist responsible.  Whilst the impeccable selection of a cover version is to be applauded and enjoyed, there is much more to be appreciated in the band’s original material, mainly from the Boardman pen but with a few co-writes.  Think of bands that you love, that for one reason or another no longer offer much of interest, either through lack of inspiration or lack of membership.  Fine Lines manage to bring the spirit of the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Roddy Frame and The Beautiful South to their music without becoming derivative or a tribute, though the bitter-sweet ruminations on the nature and experience of relationships of the latter are never far from the content, titles such as “Forget About You” and “Just Tell Me Why” acting as clues pointing in this direction.  The vocal interplay of David and Zoe is a huge plus point, the keyboard, including a distinctive Hammond organ, add value and interest throughout and this is augmented by a variety of contributions to produce the whole band effect, including guest appearances by several members of Merry Hell and with a nod to a certain Mr Radcliffe on drums, returning to the occasional melancholy of Foes rather than his current jolly rogering with Galleon Blast.  Individual songs, I hear you ask. Well, there’s the bounce of opener “Feet Don’t Touch The Ground”, the aching within “It’s Not Easy” and the melodic richness and swell of the near title track “In My Hour Of Need”.  Infectious, thoughtful, insightful and damned catchy, music for those of us who think Americana is a starting point rather than an end in itself, coming out of Knutsford – catch them if you can.