Australia - Full Moon 249 - 12/14/16
Robyn Hitchcock & Emma Swift
Love Is A Drag
Tiny Ghost Records
Robyn Hitchcock has always been a firm favourite here at the Luna Kafé headquarters. I guess I discovered his band The Soft Boys around 1981 because they had released an EP the
previous year that included a version of Pink Floyd's "Vegetable Man", the Syd Barrett song recorded in 1967, planned to be released as Floyd's fourth single along with "Scream Thy Last
Scream", but wasn't released officially until last moonth. I guess The Soft Boys was the first I'd heard of recording a cover version of a Syd Barrett song apart from David Bowies' superb
version of "See Emily Play" in 1973. Our editor played in a band called Softcocks, named after their biggest inspirational sources The Soft Boys and Buzzcocks. The band even played support
at a Robyn Hitchcock gig way back in the early 1990s. The act included a cover version of Soft Boys' "Give It To The Soft Boys" [as "Give it to the Softcocks" - editor's note] with
a sheepish looking Robyn Hitchcock watching in the wings...
A new release by Robyn is always worth celebrating. This is his second single with Emma Swift, an Australian who fell in love with Americana and moved to the states. She released a
self-titled mini-album last year and also the single "Follow Your Money"/"Motion Pictures" (the latter a Neil Young cover) in coalition with Robyn. The digital version of the new single was
released in October while we had to wait until November before we could lay our sweaty fingers on the physical seven inch vinyl version. "Love Is A Drag" is closer to Swift than Hitchcock.
This is Americana, slow, sparsely arranged, only two hushed-down guitars, a piano chord towards the end and a little bit glockenspiel. Very emotional with Emma taking the lead vocals while
Robyn sings along with her on the choruses and a little bit more. It's easier to spot the Hitchcock we've learned to love over the years in "Life Is Change". It might be labelled Americana,
too, but is a bit more up-tempo, with electric guitar licks and discreet electric piano in addition to the acoustic guitar, and has a chord progression that simply reeks of Robyn. Closer
to what you might expect when an Australian teams up with an Englishman in the United States. I am no big Americana fan, but this is more than passable. Two characteristic voices, beautiful
sad songs, discreetly arranged and no twangy steel guitars in sight. Are we in for a complete album next time?
Copyright © 2016 JP