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coverpic flag US - Washington - Full Moon 121 - 08/09/06

Gary Reynolds & The Brides Of Obscurity
Instant Happiness
Electrokitty Records

The information sheet accompanying the album indicates that the contents might be compared with Beatles, Bowie, T-Rex, Aimee Mann and Rufus Wainwright. Well, yes and maybe no. The title track with a great string arrangement wouldn't have been out of place along Bowie's and The Spiders From Mars' classic moments on Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust with George Harrison as the guest guitarist. It really brings what the title promises! The majority of the remaining songs, however, takes me back to John Lennon's solo albums. Gary's voice seems to me to consist of about 65 percent Lennon, 20 percent Bowie and 15 percent something else. I imagine (...) Gary used to sing a lot along to his Beatles, Bowie and Lennon records in his youth. At times his American voice sounds closer to British accent to these ears...

And yes, songs like "On The Radio", "Landslide Or Hurricane", "The Food Song", "Getting Over" etc. wouldn't have been out of place on Lennon's Imagine, Mind Games, Walls And Bridges or Double Fantasy. They represent both Lennon's rockier and softer sides. Gary is as clever a pop tunesmith as can be. His songs sound familiar, to some extent, but it's hard to put the finger on where you've heard them before, with a few exceptions. The string arrangement of "Living By Myself" sounds close to the one on Lennon's "How Do You Sleep" (from Imagine), only Gary's song is better. "Eliah" has a somewhat annoying piccolo trumpet solo down "Penny Lane". Whereas a couple of other songs have short elements that reminds of "Starting Over" (Double Fantasy). "Take Me To The Moon" on the other hand has a distinct classic Tom Waits feel, not least thanks to the electric guitar; while Mr. Bowie and Lennon share the vocal duties. Not a bad trio...

Instant Happiness is not an innovative album, not at all. But it demonstrates high quality craftsmanship. Apart from cunningly written songs, Gary knows a thing or two about arrangements. The use of a string quartet and wind instruments here & there makes the songs sound even better. The way the electric piano is treated also puts a distinct stamp on some of the songs. For me at least, with a (female) cat named John Lennon, Instant Happiness has been a most welcomed handful of happy pills this summer. Further information on Gary and The Brides' home page where it's possible to download the entire album.

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