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Simon Stanley Ward and The Shadows of Doubt - Songs from Various Places

  by Fiona Hutchings

published: 22 / 2 / 2019

Simon Stanley Ward and The Shadows of Doubt - Songs from Various Places
Label: Blue Hole Records
Format: CD


Amusing but accomplished second album from eclectic London-based folk musician and stand-up comedian Simon Stanley Ward

I'm not quite sure what to expect from an album featuring a man sitting on a camel on the cover and listing songs like 'Water (You Have To Have It)' or 'A Friend (Who Isn't Me)' but I press play and brace myself (plus I like to use brackets as much as the next person.) 'Jurassic Park' tears out of the gate and is an ode to Jeff Goldblum. A song that is long overdue in my humble opinion (although for the record I'd like to be Jeff Goldblum in 'The Tall Guy)' and I'm sure the careers advisors among us will be happy to finally get name checked in a song. I love it. It makes me smile but is this going to be a novelty record? No. Thank god. No, it isn't. Stanley Ward is a respected figure on the London Folk and Roots circuit, (Whispering) Bob Harris has proclaimed him a "home grown talent" but since 2016 he has also been performing stand-up comedy in the capital. Since he is basically a rock meets country meets Americana one man Spinal Tap this piece of information shouldn't be surprising. 'Songs from Various Places' is his second album and it's full of hooks, memorable lyrics and leaves me wanting to know just where the inspiration for some of these ditties came from. 'I've Heard It All' is in the tradition of the great heartbroken country songs brought in the new millennium. It includes psycho-hypno-therapy class and voicemail but does so with a straight face. 'Wow' thrills with the best kind of multi-dubbed guitar solo. Maybe because it starts in August '77 it puts me in mind of Rush just a little bit. Make no mistake, the lyrics are funny but this is not a joke of an album. The music is eclectic, from pop to punk to country and wherever else this camel riding muso decides to take us. Poppy 'Beluga Whale' is indeed told from the point of view of that particular "opportunist feeder" but is as engaging as any song where a human being considers their life and habits. 'Set in Stone' brings inthe funk and my brain can not shift the sense of Leo Sayer hovering around the edges. 'Wine' closes proceeding with a wallow in a bath that accidentally includes a 2009 Spanish vintage. Accidents happen. Simon Stanley Ward is playing dates around London in December 2019 and into the new year. I'm pretty sure seeing him live would be the kind of night out that leaves you with feet sore from dancing and a face sore from smiling.

Track Listing:-
1 Jurassic Park
2 I Heard It All
3 Wow!
4 Beluga Whale
5 Set in Stone
6 A Friend (Who Isn't Me)
7 Water (You've Got to Have It)
8 Goodbye
9 Stand Up
10 Wine

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