Betwixt the unassuming cover of Black and White Boy’s album “The Avenue” and the relentlessly downbeat lyrics of Andrew Nicol – for it the words of this melancholy Ayrshire boy that dominate – beats the heart of a sensitive singer songwriter walking through the faux backwoods of big city folk.
Accordingly many of the songs here are indicative of the perennial struggle to wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve and duly suffer from that certain verisimilitude so often the result of too many open mic nights. That said, there are some notable moments on this album and, curiously enough, they happen when Mr Nicol’s compadres are allowed to drag him away from the comfort zone of his usual, rather maudlin, tempo.
“A Beautiful Revolution”, for example, picks up the pace rather successfully with the sonic sugar coating being provided by both piano and trumpet. That’s more than enough to get even jaded ears interested. Similarly, the piano, played by Andy Lucas, drives the otherwise downbeat “Walk Away” onwards and outwards into melodrama. That’s another musical decision well made. Not far behind it, and easily the song most likely to please a beer fuelled festival audience, is “Miss Complication” and, in times gone by, this would have likely been the proverbial single that breaks the album.
Whilst “The Avenue” is unlikely to be the album that brings Black and White Boy out of the shadows in these troubled times, it does however demonstrate that the potential to escape into the bright light of fame is there.