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coverpic flag England - Full Moon 147 - 09/15/08

Charlie Barnard
Ivory Serpents & The Starving Tree
Skyeyesea Records

At first I didn't think much of this album. I dismissed it first time around as a Robyn Hitchcock copy. Then I picked it up again a couple of weeks later. Hmmm, some great songs... And I was thinking: If someone starts walking in the footsteps of a musicians' musician and cult hero like Robyn Hitchcock, that someone has to do it because of the music, certainly not because of fame and fortune.

And, of course, Ivory Serpents ... hasn't got Mr. Hitchcock written all over it. Here are traces of Bob Dylan, especially in "Ancient King Predicts The Tide", and Syd Barrett solo stuff, for instance "Teach Your Face To Cry". Well, I guess Robyn has learned a trick or two from both of them, too. And some songs don't draw resemblance with any other obvious artists, at least not of my knowledge, check out the title track. And Charlie's voice sounds like a mixture of the three aforementioned gentlemen and Jørn Smedslund of our local Norwegian heroes Dog Age. Not bad at all!

The album has hardly any weak songs. They can be categorized into the acoustic ones, Charlie only armed with a guitar (the majority) and those with a full electric band, some with great organ playing. Favourites fall into both categories. They range from the heavy "Jesus Sleeps On This Side" with burning organ, via the aforementioned sedated "Teach Your Face To Cry", to the acoustic-Robyn-at-his-very-best "Valley Of Windows".

If you like your pop and rock to be of the classic kind with cunningly written melodies inspired by the best part of the 1960s, there is no need to hesitate. And if you can't have enough of Robyn Hitchcock, Ivory Serpents is indispensable. Check out Charlie's Myspace page.

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You may also want to check out our Charlie Barnard article/review: Hallucinations & Delusions.

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