Tony Burt – People Watching

Album Review | Mirror Blue | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 4/5

With a seasoned confident voice reminiscent of Mike Harding in singer songwriter mode and well written material drawn from a lifetime of living, Tony Burt is a fine performer. Writing songs and playing in bands since the age of twenty, reinvigorated by composition workshops Tony has only now recorded People Watching his post retirement debut album. Not exactly the usual folk rock n roll ‘Ziggy played guitar’ biog, but with a lifetime’s experience and reflection to draw on Tony doesn’t put a foot wrong. Songs like “Turning My Blind Eye On You”, “Fly Closer To The Sun” and “Devils Diamond” are classic singer songwriter tracks, avoiding cliche and well worn chestnuts. Experience gives confidence to Tony’s singing too and he carries lyrics on “If I Were a Wish” with gravitas and conviction where a lesser or greener voice might stumble or sound fey. Accompanied by Boo Hewerdine and Sitwell Studio’s Chris Pepper, this is the latest in a set of well crafted Hewerdine produced Sitwell Studios albums. Accompaniment by the three musicians is tasteful, understated and entirely suited to the material. The title is no idle boast either, “Monica Is Taller Than Me”, born out of a nostalgic flight of fancy, is a clever mix of well observed details that smack of the real and self-deprecating careful reflection. “The Village” with its harmonium and Burts’ rich voice has the feel of an emotional Roy Bailey classic. Lovely folk club favourite in the making, similarly “JJ’s Bar” with its well oiled club singalong chorus. The title track has a poignancy, with Tony giving names to people, that as a writer, outsider or observer he just watches, extrapolating real sounding imagined lives. Finally with a poet’s symmetry he turns his eye on himself “All human life is there, I wonder what they think of me?” Norman Neasom’s illustration on the cover showing a bar scene, like a darker Beryl Cook, fits the mood of the album perfectly. All in all this is a measured, well constructed set of songs and performances. Tony reckons he has fifty songs written so here’s hoping this is the start of a golden years golden patch.