A/V Room









John Squire - Marshall's House

Review: Jack Foley

JOHN Squire appears to be an artist who is still attempting to live on past glories.

Without question, he remains one of the world’s best guitarists, but something appears to be standing in the way of him hooking up with another lead singer - be it vanity, or a desire not to work within a band anymore.

Whatever, it could cost him dear. For while his solo material continues to demonstrate how adept he is at playing the guitar, his vocals leave a lot to be desired, and, quite frankly, grate when it comes to listening to them for any length of time.

Hence, Marshall’s House, his second solo collection of work, is a tedious affair, which fails to do justice to the music he has written.

Lead single, Room in Brooklyn, was a classic case in point. So bad were the vocals, that two of my housemates - both ardent Stone Roses fans - failed to make it all of the way through the track, such was their disgust.

We wrote in our review of the same track that it sounded as though Squire had come to the microphone after a particularly prolonged bout of chain-smoking, such was the croaky nature of the vocals. But, whereas someone like Kelly Jones, of The Stereophonics, or, dare I say, Rod Stewart, can do croaky and still sound good, Squire sounds as though he is an artist trying to sing.

Which is a shame, for there really ought to be plenty to admire on this album, especially given the obvious love Squire possesses for his music, and the lengths he goes in order to find inspiration.

All the tracks on Marshall's House, for instance, are inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper, the American realist, best known for works from Depression-era America in the Thirties and Forties.

As Squire states: "Hopper painted American scenes and American people - usually quite solitary and depressed-looking individuals, superficially light, and awkward and ordinary, but there was something disturbing about some of the characters. So each of the songs is triggered by one of those images."

The result is decidedly hit-and-miss. The title track, for example, is a genuinely good record, rife with the type of guitar riffs which have helped Squire to earn such revered status among music fans, while also tapping into an all-American feel more closely associated with a band such as the Fountains of Wayne, while opening track, Summertime, sounds like a breezy sun-drenched record - until Squire starts singing.

But all too often the album possesses the effect of trying to listen to someone scratching their fingernails along a blackboard, while some of the tracks merely fail to impress on any level.

Cape Cod Morning, or Yawl Riding A Swell, which evokes memories of REM’s Everybody Hurts, could well reduce Roses fans to a quivering wreck by the time they play out, while attempts to move away from the guitar sound also fail to find a positive response.

And even though Squire has collaborated with Simon Dawson, who has been on-board since the Roses' second album, the trick is not repeated.

All of which makes Marshall’s House a huge disappointment, which consistently squanders its one, main selling point. It appears there is no Second Coming for Squire in solo form…

Track listing:
1. Summertime
2. Hotel Room
3. Marshall’ House
4. Lighthouse and Buildings, Portland Head, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
5. Cape Cod Morning
6. People In the Sun
7. Tables for Ladies
8. Automat
9. Yawl
10. Riding a Swell
11. Room In Brooklyn
12. Gas

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