I'm truly grateful, Dave - many thanks!
Rattle the Asylum Bars
There are souls, still, who think of Beau as the artist formerly known as “didn’t you used to record for John Peel’s label?” And others who know him from the host of further offerings that have taken him from beat boom antiquities for Fruits de Mer, to the avant-garde of Simfonica.
Rattle the Asylum Bars, if pushed, would probably ally itself more with its maker’s Dandelion catalog, but only in as much as it’s Beau at his barest, a largely acoustic collection of songs that dwell on the more sober side of contemporary observation.
It’s an affecting collection made all the more effective by the sheer exuberance of Beau’s vocal, and the often mocking melodies with which he underpins his thoughts – “Moral Clarity” is a singalong that you really wouldn’t want to hear being sung too loudly, and if the overall feel is redolent of the kind of agitated folk that the early-mid seventies did so well, then that only amplifies the album’s strengths.
Too often, too recently, such an approach gets so bogged down by polemic that it vanishes up its own good intentions before you’re even halfway through. Beau, though, grinds his axes with such bright bonhomie that he not only peoples his songs with character, he inhabits them, too. “People Like Me” will leave people like that simply squirming in the spotlight, while “The Hedgerows of England” gives a dozen good reasons for paving over the lot of them.
Unashamedly current in its political stance, but universal and timeless in the shape that stance takes, Rattle the Asylum Bars is probably not an album to delve deep inside if you’re looking to escape the maddened undercurrents that swirl through the headlines of the news every day. But that is not Beau’s concern. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, in times like these, it becomes more than a moral duty to listen to an artist speak his mind. It becomes a pleasure.