Richard Townend & The Mighty Bosscats

2022

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Doing a little research on Mr. Townend, I noted that he moved to Essex in 2001 and gave up music for 10 years. Essex can do that to you of course, but this gent has made up for it since and thank goodness he did. I caught his band a few years back and really enjoyed his guitar playing and the quality of the songs. His singing voice did not have the same effect but, nestled in among the lavishly arranged tunes on this fine collection, his Knopfler-esque vocal style sounds more at home, effectively conveying the sincerity of the lyrics.

Opener ‘Got to Pay Your Dues’ sums up the position of many musicians supported by a relatively small number of ageing music lovers, “We got small town gigs with big long drives, day time job to pay for these lives, low on money after the show, and sleepy old eyes with a 100 miles to go”. This motors along like an old tour van heading up the M1 fuelled by its middle period Chris Rea riff and a variety of guitar tones with some echoing slide. The arrangements of these well-crafted songs raise these numbers well above the average.

‘Just the Way It Was’ is a delightful gentle paced song with a theme of nostalgia “we watched the grainy images of a man standing on the moon, Armstrong and Frankenstein and a baby boom” and has some gorgeous harmonies. ‘Everyman’ is elevated by the excellent guitar work by the top cat in this combo, some trademark elegant Country style bending and careful note selection. The same could be said for the melodic groove of ‘The Picture’, which has some beautiful soloing.

Although the album was recorded over lockdown in a number of locations, with the band accessing remotely (some from Russia), it certainly doesn’t show. On the title track the songwriter sings “I want to write a story that touches your heart” and I’d say, mission accomplished, particularly listening to ‘Cruel to Be Kind’ (not a Nick Lowe cover), with its sad Country lament. ‘Listen up a Little’ is a joyous acoustic tub thumper with some lovely Chet Atkins runs and would have fitted in nicely on the Notting Hillbillies album. The boys with the more tuneful vocals add some happily corny backing on this to give it a good fun rating of 10 out of 10.

‘Lord It’s Time’ is a similarly enjoyable Gospel-tinged romp laced with some more stand out harmony work and a layered arrangement that builds beautifully underneath tasty picking. This is melodic heaven. This artist deserves a wider level of recognition for sure. This album is a good place to start if he’s not been on your radar before.

Simon Green