It is easy to criticise the many and myriad musicians that hide their true origin behind what they perceive as the essence of the musical genre that they have chosen to stylistically follow. Consequently, the unmistakeable sound of a knife sharpener invaded my thoughts as I listened to Al Shield’s “Mountains” EP as, once again, the ghosts of Dylan and Guthrie are exorcised in an attempt to scale the mountains of Americana.
The cynical amongst you may start to wonder why I didn’t just jump on the next bus to Edinburgh town and make with the close range retribution for these musical sins. It was a tempting course of action but, over the course of these six songs, Al Shields proved himself more than just a pretender to a throne long since abdicated for he suffers from a welcome case of sincerity. He is, if you like, just a man in love with this kind of music.
Predominately acoustic and keeping his lyrical content well inside the safety zone, this one man and a guitar strolls through songs like “Boatload Of Worry” and “Johanna” as if innocence was still in fashion. Working up a sweat just isn’t his thing either so the tempo never goes faster than a canter with the objective here being to create warmth by convection rather than friction.
Al Shields might well be a throwback to times gone by but many will see that as a good thing. Sentiment, as always, is the new black.