Damian runs the rule over the new one from the former Stands singer
Liverpudlian Howie Payne is the ex-Stands frontman. His band burnt brightly but briefly during their lifespan, spawning a string of five UK top 40 singles. `Mountain` is the follow up to Howie`s solo debut ‘Bright Light Ballads’, which was produced by Ethan Johns.
“Quick As The Moon” opens the album and it`s quite a melancholic reflection on a platonic relationship. Howie`s voice is wonderfully clear with some nice strumming guitar, piano and even a tambourine being shaken in the background.
Another reflective track follows with the eerie “All Of These Things” before quite a trippy number “Some Believer, Sweet Dreamer” which has some pleasant guitar licks and an infectious chorus of `you can dream on, you can dream on, some believer, sweet dreamer`
“The Brightest Star” is a real upbeat, uplifting tune, a real charming offering. A song that was originally written for Ren Harvieu follows with the laid back “Holding On” a nice mid-tempo paced aria. “After Tonight” is quite a detached come abstract song with Howie`s voice almost layered quietly above the melody, a very reflective song which benefits from some lovely harmonica snatches. A very West Coast sound comes to the fore on “Thoughts On Thoughts”
A great tune that wouldn`t be out of place in a Love or Strawberry Alarm Clock set.
I really loved “Hold Steady The Wire”, it seemed to have it all and for some reason reminded me of George Harrison`s `While My Guitar Gently Weeps`, maybe just the spirit of it.
The penultimate track “High Times” is quite anthemic and really prospers for some great vocal harmonies that fills out the sound. I can imagine this will be a crowd pleaser in a live setting.
The final track “Evangeline (Los Angeles)” is a re-working of a stand out track from ‘Bright Light Ballads’. and kicks off with a shaken tambourine and delightful guitars inflections.
This is another song that seems to wear it`s West Coast influences. A nice piece that had me drifting off in an agreeable altered state of consciousness.
I really enjoyed this offering from a much-underrated artist. I have seen Howie and he certainly delivers in a live situation.
I would put Howie Payne in amongst the same category of singer songwriters that deserve more recognition such as Elliot Smith and Matthew Jay. We can only hope that `Mountain` will be the album that will see people acknowledge his talent and move him out of having just having a cult following.
Rating 8.5 /10