Review: Analogue Tales: Sounds from Arden

James Summerfield credit Jamie Ryan-AinslieRichard Lutz tunes into a new album from a Birmingham songwriter.

A bit of Americana, a bit of ambient, a bit of poetry thrown in.

James Summerfield’s new album, out later this month on the Commercially Inviable label, chucks in a handful of genres for this, his fifth studio recording.

Analogue Tales: Sounds from Arden is local music, loads of references to Birmingham and a healthy smattering of West Mids voices for the spoken word. It’s good, solid, professional output that would make a perfect night out at the Kitchen Garden Cafe in Kings Heath or a similar small venue.

With track titles pointing to geography (Jewellery Quarter, Cenotaph and a choral -like Feral Cats of Longbridge) the listener has no doubt where the songwriter’s influence comes from. His music is laden with more than a hint of English folk (a bit fey at times), and well produced Americana and Alt Country. So there is a fine mix in the album. Think the Byrds, Traffic, Nancy Griffiths, even a hint of early Grateful Dead before they were creamed off their heads.

But some of the spoken words don’t hit the mark. Beryl Doesn’t Give a Toss is bedsit poetry at best featuring Birmingham-based writer Catherine O’Flynn. But a lovely one minuter from an elderly woman (one of the songwriter’s relatives, perhaps?) is touching, close to the heart, the city at its best.

But who’s perfect? Summerfield is a proficient musician from the tracks I heard. I’d pay cash to see and hear him, and that’s a recommendation enough.

Available on all formats via Commercially Inviable Records from 22nd June.