David Granville reviews Remember To Smile, Neil McSweeney and the Gents, Little Mester Music (CD and vinyl formats)
THE YORKSHIRE city of Sheffield has a long-established and thriving popular music scene with a track record of producing exceptional talent of the calibre of Joe Cocker, Pulp, the Human League, Heaven 17, Richard Hawley and, most recently, Little Man Tate and the Arctic Monkey's.
If this album is anything to go by, Sheffield singer-songwriter Neil McSweeney could soon find his name mentioned in the same breath.
This collection of subtle, well-crafted, melancholic, songs of love, loss and longing, is far from depressing. This itself is quite an achievement and a tribute to McSweeney's exceptional musical and song-writing talents and some tremendous arrangements.
While having his own distinctive style, I wouldn't be at all surprised, or disappointed, to find that the likes of Tim Buckley, Townes Van Zant, Richard Thompson, Steve Earle, Otis Redding, or even Crowded House and Anthony and the Johnsons, rank among his influences.
The album's musical core rests upon McSweeney voice and song-writing and an eclectic mix of musical styles ranging from something approaching rock-a-billy, through to alt. country, blues and even classic soul - the brass arrangement on Broken Truth could have come straight from a Atlantic soul classic of the 1960s or 70s.
There's a chance see Neil and the band performing their debut single Postcards by accessing the BBC Humber's Raw Talent Rewind video archive at www.bbc.co.uk/humber
Keep your ears open and expect to hear a lot more of Neil McSweeney in the months and years to come.
Connolly Publications Ltd, 244 Gray's Inn Road, London, WC1X 8JR
Copyright © 2007 David Granville