Thirty Pounds of Bone

It is an extremely brave or delusional singer/songwriter that opens a new album like Johny Lamb (aka Thirty Pounds of Bone) does here. ‘Veesik for the Brock’ has only slow handclaps and a creaking, seething accordion for accompaniment to his intense folk incantation of a vocal. But that’s how he rolls, there are no easy rides or gentle introductions – it’s desolate and dark and a ‘difficult’ listen from the word go.

Travelling and passage of time are recurring themes on the album and as such it’s compartmentalised into four distinct phases or ‘places’ – past, present, between and the rather more cryptic ‘Place of Heritage’ to tell an emotional story. Liberal use of samples of seagulls and rippling surf helps create an oppressive atmosphere, as well inducing a need to go and pee.

Rather more instrumentation is introduced as the album progresses with unforgiving guitars on ‘The Truth of The Matter’ as he starts to fully get into his stride. The album develops like a penance for all the past misdemeanours committed by the protagonist - ‘The Streets I Staggered Down’ is an evocative rendition of time spent travelling from town to town performing and no doubt drinking heavily with mentions of ‘… fights outside Rock City’ and ‘losing friends behind Barcelona’s main drag’.

This is the follow-up to 2010’s ‘Method’ which I also reviewed for these very pages, and if my notes encouraged you to purchase, and you enjoyed that then you’ll be pleased to know that this new album follows a familiar path. ‘Helen’s House’ has fantastic acoustic guitar work while ‘The Ballad of Cootehill’ poignantly recalls a painful journey back to a place and time of adolescence. He certainly has an eye for a cracking song title with ‘How We Make a Mongrel of the Music of the Archipelago’ somewhat taking the biscuit.

The rocky ride eventually brings us to the final ‘present’ day phase of the album with tender memories and bitter recollections having been revisited within the supreme subtlety of the songs. The last three tracks are more reflective of where our central character’s life resides right now with ‘The Maritime Line’ and ‘The Wolf on The Shelf’ seemingly portraying some sense of having achieved a level of harmony in finally being ‘home’.

Don’t expect Johny Lamb to be rocking up in your charts or on any mainstream radio stations anytime soon, but if you enjoy music with heart, emotion and lots of meaning then you should make it your duty to seek him out.

Steve Claire