Edinburgh based singer songwriter Chris Bradley caught the public attention with his much praised debut album, Voices and is looking to build on its success with the follow up, At The Outpost. When he is not doing his own thing Bradley plays guitar with the wonderful Aberfeldy. While Aberfeldy's stripped back sound is coated in pop melodies that are simply irresistible, Bradley's Americana sound lacks that instant appeal and requires a bit more work on the listeners behalf. Don't get me wrong, Bradley knows how to write a catchy tune but the rather cold production means that it takes a while to warm to this album.
Bradley's influences are on display for all to see. Steely Dan, The Byrds, Richard Thompson etc have all made an impression on this album. The album opens with The Man I Love, a song whose intensity builds throughout while never losing its simplicity and definitely shows where Bradleys talents lie as a songwriter. Running Song wears its Steely Dan sound with pride and is by far the best and strongest track of the 12 contained on this album.
At The Outposts has some moments of pleasure but Bradley fails to maintain that standard with too many of the songs lacking any soul or passion, sounding like music by numbers. Hand Me Down, The Beatles and Your Close Friend being the prime examples. When Bradley is capable of writing songs of the quality of Not What It Was and Waltzing you wonder why he didn't maintain this standard throughout.
I have been listening to this album for over 2 weeks now and to be honest I hated it after the first few plays but it has grown on me. It has its charms but not enough to lift it above the ordinary.