Music Review Contemporary
A Handbook Of Roses
London – based Scotsman Jamie Telford is a bit of a musical polymath. He was responsible for the piano on The Jam’s number one single “Beat Surrender”. He’s scored Theatre Music for a world tour of Hamlet, composed classical pieces and created soundtracks for films. Meanwhile, My Glass World reflects his work as a singer-songwriter, supported by a cast of guest musicians.
For A Handbook of Roses, My Glass World’s fourth album, he’s teamed up with engineer, producer and musician Sean Read (Edwyn Collins, Dexys Midnight Runners, The Rails, Beth Orton). Telford and Read made the record in under two months at Reads studio Famous Times in Hackney, London.
There’s an impressive list of collaborators on the record – Telford describes them as being able to “play really well and turn on a sixpence” – including two stand up base players Jonny Bridgwood (Morrissey, Marianne Faithfull) and Ali Friend (Red Snapper) as well as guitarist Ted Barnes (Beth Orton) and drummer Stephen Gilchrist (Graham Coxon). In addition to his production duties Read plays keyboards, sax and trumpet and sings backing vocals.
Telford’s Scottish roots have influenced the album – several of the songs are about memories, recapturing lost feelings and going back to places in your past. His lyrics are powerfully evocative as he believes you can shift the people think with the right song and lyric.
The gorgeous opener, which is the title track, sets the mood for most of the album; a stately, yet melancholy country-soul tinged ballad about lost love, with piano, strings, saxophone, Hammond Organ, and some subtle electric guitar licks played on telecaster by Ted Barnes.
Broken Trains occupies similar territory. It’s a poetic, nocturnal tale of trying to get home from the city and travelling ‘past hungry rivers, and empty houses. Bungalows and silent churches, fallen bridges, and new substations. Cold roads and old vibrations.
The mood shifts dramatically on ‘I’m not in love with America’ – an upbeat piano – led stomp, with an early 70s West Coast sound and cop car sirens, it’s a satirical swipe at US politics. “I’m not in love with America now – too many times she let me down. We were in love but now it’s spent.”
On the infectious ‘The Number one Dude in Town’ which also has a 70s US singer songwriter feel, as well as glorious Stax like horns, Telford lampoons Donal Trump – “Still the fandango of your hair blows soft, your tan won’t fade, how hard they scoff”
The anthemic ‘Old Times’ is moving, nostalgic and yearning – “Old Times are calling, hauling you home again, back where three rivers meet” Another ballad, with a slightly folky feel and a lovely string arrangement, and it sounds like it should be sung in a pub at closing time.
‘Loves not a Four Letter Word’ is one of the more surprising songs on the album – moody, cinematic and jazz infused. Read provides cool, late night trumpet, Telford plays some chaotic piano and Pat Goroll lays down the ‘Stratocastro distort guitar.’
The final track, ‘Kettle., Pot and Bloody Black’ is minimalist, haunting and very atmospheric, with echo- laden vocals, spacey sounds and ghostly piano: “Days turn dry, and leaves float past. Birds fly off, the light goes fast. These shadow years, we don’t look back – into the dark and bloody black.’
Reads production gives these songs a real depth and warmth. There’s also an intimacy to the recording – it’s a perfect soundtrack for the wee small hours of the morning. Speaking about his music, Telford says “ You can listen to something from 40 years ago and it still works – it still sounds right. That’s the area I am looking to work in – making it sound right, simply or with more complexity rather than worrying as to whether it sounds current.’
He needn’t worry – with A Handbook of Roses he’s made a superb and classy album full of great songs with a timeless quality. SH
Prisoners of Gravity
Good quality adult pop is thinly occupied territory. Adele heads the female list and Paul Heaton the male by some margin but to that list could well be added keyboard player and songwriter Jamie Telford.
Operating under the band name of My Glass World Telford has produced this ten track album (plus a hidden one) of atmospheric and somewhat melancholy songs that cover grown up concerns rather than merely boy-meets-girl-loses-girl tropes.
The backing musicians appear sensitive to the nuances of the material and don’t overwhelm the songs, allowing Telford and his piano to be the main focus.
Don’t expect a lively romp, what you have here is a thoughtful collection of slightly world weary songs that bear serious listening and appreciation.
with local star Amy Hill
Read the review in The Fountain posted by Keira Brown https://thefountain.eu/features/2020/08/my-glass-world-people-are-interested-in-the-lyrical-side-of-the-material/
Prisoners of Gravity
Keyboard notes as crystal sharp as splinters of glass. Gentle ripples of easy-paced tones. Blue-remembered paths of melody, deep rooted as trees, with a whole wide world reflected inside. A glass menagerie of songs, with classy classicism of piano, in clear separation yet in exact fusion, with haiku-neat lyrics of enigmatic depths that suggest more than their surfaces deliver. Open, but intimate and personal too.
My Glass World – or MyGlassWorld – is essentially Jamie Telford, who once played piano on The Jam’s ‘Beat Surrender’. And this is his third album – Following the cold fusion of Book One (2012) and the esoteric themes of The Year Of HAPPY (2013). Just don’t ask about the Moomin project!
Every now and then there’s a sense of Clifford T. Ward fly-away vocals, on videos shot on iPhone. John Kensingtons’s stand-up bass and jazz-light swirls break free of gravity, bending time on the title song, precisely punctuated by Martyn Kaine’s unobtrusive drumming. If Jamie Cullum is hunting songs to cover, look no further, they’re here. Prisoners Of Gravity closes with the frisson of doomy existential reflections in ‘The World Is A Hoax.