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Neil Halstead - Oh Mighty Engine

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 5 / 10 / 2008

Neil Halstead - Oh Mighty Engine
Label: Brushfire/Island
Format: CD


Excellent folk and country-influenced second solo album from Mojave 3 front man, Neil Halstead

Mojave 3 front man Neil Halstead has now joined Jack Johnson's Brushfire label after leaving 4AD having fulfilled his contract there. The sleeve of 'Oh ! Mighty Engine' has happier artwork than usual and the content is somewhat different too. Maybe that's because Neil is now married and recently his wife has given him two children. This is his second solo album and it starts off with the title track, which is a classic Halstead track, being somewhat soft and fluffy in tone and very Mojave 3/Nick Drake-influenced with minimal backing, but having the added bonus of being summery in sound. 'Elevenses' is fun and much faster, very folk based and lovely. 'Little Twig' is very soft with craftmanship-style guitar work, while the charming 'Witless or Wise' could have been a Mojave 3 number and has a particularly strong set of vocals. 'Paint a Face' has Leonard Cohen-style guitar, a clean crisp vocal, and is quite fast but again lovely. 'Always the Good' meanwhile is quite upbeat, but gentle too, like an easy listening version of the Cure at their most commercial. It could definitely be a single. 'No Mercy for the Muse' again sounds like a Mojave 3 number and also has a huge element of early Cohen in it. 'Sometimes the Wheels' finds Neil in Nick Drake/Tim Buckley mood, while recent download only single 'Queen Bee' recalls Mojave 3 at their happiest. 'Spinning for Spoonie' is very gentle and lovely. 'A Gentle Heart' is more country based, like a Neil Young sing-a-long number. The last track, 'Baby, I Grew You a Beard', is maybe a true statement as Neil has grown a beard in recent years. This is classy material of the highest-standard.

Track Listing:-
1 Oh! Mighty Engine
2 Elevenses
3 Little Twig
4 Witless Or Wise
5 Paint A Face
6 Always The Good
7 No Mercy For The Muse
8 Sometimes The Wheels
9 Queen Bee
10 Spinning For Spoonie
11 A Gentle Heart
12 Baby I Grew You A Beard

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Interview (2009)
Neil Halstead - Interview
The frontman with both Slowdive and Mojave 3, Neil Halstead has recently released his second solo album, '‘Oh, Mighty Engine !' He speaks to Anthony Strutt about it and his work with both bands

live reviews

Musician, Leicester, 15/1/2014
Neil Halstead - Musician, Leicester, 15/1/2014
Anthony Strutt finds understated but powerful an evening of acoustic country/folk rock from Peter Bruntnell, Neil Halstead and Danny George Wilson on the first date of their Songwriters' Circle tour at The Musician in Leicester
Garage, London, 22/7/2010

digital downloads



Palindrome Hunches (2012)
Seductive lo-fi folk pop on third album from Slowdive and Mojave 3 front man, Neil Halstead
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