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Jeff Symonds - Riverrun (self-released)

29 February 2024

I’ve done this the wrong way around, haven’t I? At least chronologically speaking. But, having been bowled over by just how excellent the two recent singles from Jeff Symonds were, and consider “48 Lines About 12 Men” to be one of the best songs that I have heard in a long time, it is only natural that I dig into the back catalogue.

Given that brace of songs that introduced me to Jeff’s sonic world are not only different from most of the music being made out there, not to mention from each other, I had no idea what to expect from his debut album Riverrun, I just knew it would be good.

And it is. No, actually, it is great…or whatever word is above great in the complimentary pecking order. It is an autobiographical album , a look back and celebration of three decades of a life lived making music, and it is this that accounts for how astute and deftly wrought the songs found here are, the fact that he has been around the music block many times before committing to making music under his own name. Still, good things come to those who wait, as they say, and this has been worth the wait.

So we have a that odd situation of a debut album by a man who has been doing sterling musical work all his life. An album that takes in ragged Replacements-esque rock such as “Out of Here,” the New Wave vibes of “Three Portraits,” ska-infused grooves thanks to “Hold On” and Tom Petty-ish rockers with the sublime “Kissimmee.” There is even room for Jeff to show his subtler side with the spacious, seductive, marvellously mellifluous and reflective “Elegy.” It’s a thing of beauty.

By the time he signs off with the gorgeously optimistic “Luckiest Person Alive,” you realise that you have just witnessed a brilliant new voice rising from the musical landscape. New is perhaps not the right word choice, considering that Jeff has been an essential part of it for a long time. But Riverrun is where we hear him speak for himself via his own signature solo sonic voice. It’s a voice I could listen to all day.

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