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Roger Knott - Big News from a Small Town

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 10 / 10 / 2010

Roger Knott - Big News from a Small Town
Label: Leg Room Records
Format: CD


Suprising yet excellent pop-oriented fifth solo album from Hertfordshire-based singer/songwriter, Roger Knott

For his fifth solo album Hertfordshire-based English singer songwriter Roger Knott has abandoned the Nashville studios he inhabited for his last couple of albums and recorded ‘Big News from a Small Town’ in London. The sound of Nashville loomed large over those earlier albums and that pure country sound dominated the songs. It appears that a change of country and studio has given Knott’s music a new lease of life. The thirteen songs on ‘Big News from a Small Town’ are all originals but are not steeped in that old country sound that we have come to expect from Knott. If this change in style is totally down to the change in his surroundings when recording the songs or if Knott deliberately set out to leave some of his country leanings on this album is uncertain, but Knott has made the right decision. There’s a more mature pop sound to this latest batch of songs ; Knott has made an album of mainly pop/rock songs this time as opposed to that pure country sound that dominated those earlier albums. There are very few songs during these 45 minutes that you wouldn’t want to hear again. In fact there is just one song that is not up to Knott’s usual high standard, ‘Baby We’re An Item’ is just too annoyingly catchy to warrant too many plays. It’s just too sweet and the tune just grates very quickly. Despite that it must be said that Knott’s and the backing vocals on that track are superb. But where Knott really shines is on songs which surely must be autobiographical and which, thankfully, make up the bulk of this album. The album kicks off with ‘Watermelon Moon’, which is a jaunty romp with slight country touches where Knott, not for the last time on this album, looks back on his childhood and place where he grew up. It’s a catchy piece of mature pop and Knott, who has a distinctive voice that you can’t help but warm to turns in a good vocal performance. ‘Young Eyes’ follows and again those country touches that were to the fore on Knott’s previous albums are less obvious here despite the strings being the only concession to Nashville on this album. Lyrically it’s a song about longing for the lost innocence of youth and Knott easily conjures up images of those “ice-cream trucks”. It’s this early into the album that you realise that Knott is not only travelling on a different road musically but by writing lyrics that are personal and looking back that he’s taken a completely different route this time. There’s a distinct English feel to these songs especially on songs like ‘Tourist Town’ which surprisingly is the song that harks back most to the country sound we’ve come to expect from Knott. Comparing the end of a relationship with the closing of a tourist town for the season gives Knott the chance to prove that lyrically he has come up with some of his best lines ever, “You made the winter winds blow in the chill of your goodbye” is a prime example. ‘A Fine Hobby’ is more than likely a true tale of how Knott has made it in music despite being told it’s “no way to make a living”. It’s amusing and touching at the same time. But the following song, ‘Ghost from Your Past’ is probably the best song that Knott has yet recorded. A former lover returns to try to destroy a relationship, “We made a vow we would never be untrue…so tell me what does never mean to you?” sings Knott before launching into a chorus that is so appealing you’ll be singing it all day. It all ends in tears of course, but it’s by far the strongest song in this set. Knott has grown with each album he has released so far. ‘Big News from a Small Town’, is by far the strongest collection of songs we heard from him and the change of studio and sound coupled with a slight theme running through some of the songs makes the whole album hang together nicely. So it’s not the album I was expecting from Knott; it was a surprise to hear less of his country influences but it’s worked well. One can’t help but wonder if the closing song, ‘Gypsy Rambler’ which shows a folkier Knott, is a taster for the sound this talented songwriter will explore further on his next album.

Track Listing:-
1 Watermelon Moon
2 Young Eyes
3 Baby, We're An Item
4 One Shot Deal
5 Tourist Town
6 A Fine Hobby
7 Ghost From Your Past
8 Frisbee Street
9 Something I Don't Know
10 Becky's House
11 Your Mother's Daughter
12 No Electricity
13 Gypsy Rambler

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