Music Review: Project 52
by Stu Jesson
There is a rich tradition of artists setting themselves strenuous musical challenges to try to summon bursts of inspiration: Jack White confined the recording of Get Behind Me Satan to a mere two weeks, The Cowboy Junkies used only one microphone for the brilliant live album The Trinity Sessions, and Sufjan Stevens is currently writing an album for each American state.
Shane Beales, a singer/songwriter from Liverpool, has promised his fans a new song each week for a whole year, and he’s calling it ‘Project 52’. There’s an important difference between Shane Beales and the others, though: Beales has no record contract and no money.
I’m intrigued; intrigued enough, in fact, to have paid Project 52’s £20 subscription fee. Beales’ recent album I’ll Repair Your Mistakes is pretty good -in a couple of places it’s about as good as it possibly could be, the kind of songs you play on repeat for a few hours at a time (check out ‘Hold’, ‘Whiskertooth’ and the untitled opening track) – but the chances are you’ve never heard of it. The sad fact is that while record companies home in on bands tailor-made for a place on the latest band wagon, artists trying to tap into something a bit deeper and more nourishing tend to be ignored. But in five years time, when James Blunt is no more than an embarrassing memory (dear God, let it be so), Shane Beales will probably be still sat at his piano, striving to craft songs honest and fragile enough to let some light in.
Unless he has a nervous breakdown this year of course, or gives up completely, trades his piano in for dance lessons and enters the next Pop Idol.
But let’s hope not, because so far Project 52 is well worth the subscription fee. ‘Bald’ from week one is thoroughly excellent; a slightly jarring, rhythmic verse with an unexpectedly catchy chorus, and ‘All Things New’, written over Easter about a line from The Passion of the Christ, sets its sights high and just about gets there. There’s also a slightly crazed, techno-phase-Radiohead kind of song about insomnia called ‘Release (I need to get some sleep)’ and a very pretty song about hope called, believe it or not, ‘Hope’. Imaginitive song titles are obviously not a priority for Beales, but who cares really? If you’re fed up of carefully styled haircut bands with drainpipe jeans trying to re-live rock’n’roll history, overwrought Chris Martin-alikes saying very little very vaguely, and if James Blunt gives you nightmares, then give Project 52 a go. It will, at the very least, be interesting.
Posted by: Stu Jesson on Thursday Apr 20th, 2006
- Ali Wilson writes:
...left on Monday Apr 24th, 2006
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