Duke Garwood

Duke Garwood – Garden Of Ashes (Heavenly)

Anyone dipping their toes into the waters of Duke Garwood‘s latest long player could be excused for thinking they had unwittingly stumbled in on Mark Lanegan mid-hit and oblivious to intruders. Garwood has, of course, worked with Lanegan before, and on ‘Coldblooded‘, the resemblance is uncanny. The music suitably grainy and woozy, like a slightly lighter hearted Nick Cave. But if those seem like lazy equations, take a listen for yourself. I will happily challenge anyone who has heard Garwood NOT to agree with such an assessment. The good news is that he pulls it off, and how!

If anything, the most surprising thing about him is that he hails not from the Evergreen or Buckeye States, but from South London! But you knew that already, right?

I am an angry man; so angry I burn myself. So angry I heat up the air around me. This is the nuclear fuel I use to make music”. This is what the man himself has to say about Garden Of Ashes, his sixth solo release, continuing: “In a world so full of pain and madness we need to be better than ever; to evolve not devolve. To become masters of our fate and stop listening to the snake talkers who would steal our last breath. It’s time to go Elvis and shoot the cursed TV.”

For all the murky disquietude however, Garden Of Ashes somehow still manages to glimmer with a comely lustre that feels somewhat soul-cleansing. Depressing this most certainly is not. The sincere, swampy lo-fi blues of, say, ‘Move On Softly‘ or ‘Sing To The Sky‘ cannot be described as anything other than heart-wrenchingly beautiful. ‘Sleep‘ is half Leonard Cohen, half Nick Drake, while ‘Sonny Boogie‘, despite being five minutes of sun-kissed splendour is hardly likely to get anyone throwing shapes on the dancefloor. No, instead this is music for lovers entwined to fall asleep to, the soundtrack to a junkie’s most fondly remembered hallucinatory experience, or merely a mollifying musical meditation for anyone wishing to escape their Hellish existence for the next 40 minutes or so without the need for narcotics.

Often these songs possess a giddy charm that suggest a sleepy early hours stroll along the seafront, their protagonist seeming to feel an affinity with the world in its most natural state. In essence, this most accurately encapsulates what Garden Of Ashes seems to be all about. Finding our own little private alcove to retreat from the insanity of our planet for a while, to recuperate, and come back defiant in the face of adversity. We can get through this, Garwood is saying, but if we are to do so, let’s do it together.

Garden Of Ashes is released on the 3rd of February through Heavenly.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.