Simon Rowe - Everybody's Thinking (Big Potato Records)

Simon Rowe – Everybody’s Thinking (Big Potato Records)

If the name Simon Rowe isn’t immediately familiar to you, the names Chapterhouse and Mojave 3 may be more so. He played guitar in both acts – the former one of the original shoegaze acts and the latter a more Americana-type proposition – and while you may hear echoes of the latter in this album, this third act for the artist is a rather different proposition.

The influences being put forward for this album are the likes of Tim Hardin, Fred Neil and Syd Barrett. To these ears the latter – both in the early years of Pink Floyd and the handful of solo albums he made might be the most obvious reference points, yet overall there’s a pastoral rather than psychedelic feel to the record. While the phrase ‘timeless’ often gets bandied around referring to a record that basically sounds like it’s completely rooted in the 1960s (or at least the pre-punk era), the reality is that this feels fresh rather than simply being a distillation of an – admittedly rather fine record collection.

Although clocking in at a little over thirty minutes, the comparatively short playing time doesn’t actually matter, because it feels so wonderfully complete in and of itself. It’s such a summery record it seems almost the wrong time of year to release it; yet at the same time, you can give yourself time to get into this record properly before the warmer months come and you can drift off into a happy reverie to its soundtrack. Given that the collaborators include most of Chapterhouse (Andrew Sheriff, Ashley Bates and Stephen Patman) as well as former Mojave 3 colleagues Ian McCutcheon and Neil Halstead, it’s great to see (and indeed hear) that it’s not simply a continuation of those acts.

I had to play this record several times to get my head round it – whilst it’s a very easy album to love, the mood is so relaxing that it meant I was almost letting the tracks fade into one. But the strength of the record keeps pulling you back and it’s been an absolute joy to spend time with this record. Highlights include ‘Talk Too‘ and ‘Over & Over,‘ though I like the way the ever so slightly unsettling ‘Monkey Brain‘ throws something else into the album seven tracks in

I hope this record reaches the audience that it so clearly deserves, rather than just being one of many releases that it might get overshadowed by. I have no idea where this fits in with what 2023 may be meant to sound like, and frankly, I really don’t care. But please: do cast your ears this way…


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