Another English troubadour enamoured of the clever end of Britpop’s past, Robert James Selby is probably not a name that you are familiar with and, indeed, neither was I. However, his near anonymity is no reason to dismiss him as his album “Scrap-book Ballads Vol. 1” contains much that is endearing to the ears.
For a start, our Mr Selby is a literate lyricist and he knows his way around a melody too. Two songs in and you have all the proof you need of that with “Hard Love” being elegantly upbeat and, like all the best pop songs, sneaking into your affections without seeming to make any particular effort. Likewise, “Cats of Pere Lachaise” takes the apparent pretentiousness of its title and walks it right down the road into Blur
Further on down that road, there’s even a hint of John Lennon in “Illumination” and an almost fashionable twisted pagan fervour is evident in “Aeolian Harp”. If you are going to have influences then make them good ones and make them work for you. So you should be getting the picture now but, for the record, let’s now restate that Robert James Selby knows how to write a proper, intelligent song and that, my friends, is an uncommon thing.
Although rather clumsily produced and somewhat patchily performed, “Scrap-book Ballads Vol. 1” is nonetheless the kind of album that grows on you. Why? Because Robert James Selby is doing what he should be doing and that simple fact shines through each and every one of his songs.