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Pleasing debut from popular North-East singer-songwriter Simma, Anthony Simpson, is a popular North-East singer-songwriter signed to Steve Cunningham’sfledgling new label, Boomchang. Primarily, they are a label more attuned to downloads, but have put together a ‘physical’ copy of Simma’s debut in a round display tin with bespoke packaging.

A largerthan life character, Simma, under the guidance of Steve Cunningham, has crafted a veritable stew of an album incorporating different musical styles. Opener Voodon’t, set in Louisiana, is a

cautionary tale of the dangers of self-indulgence at the ‘last chance saloon.’ Steve Cunningham’s vibrant trumpet injects a rollicking tempo, Simma’s inner voice tellis him that; ‘something ain’t quite right.’ He’s answered by the fine vocals of Debora Butler, cast in the role of the ‘wise woman.’ ‘Boy you’re living the devils life on the whiskey and the women and the wine’, a strong, solid beginning.

Black Dog Walks has an urgent acoustic roots(y) feel with some excellent banjo playing courtesy ofDan Walsh. Sing, with its brass band backing, and joyous-voiced choir is a celebration in its call for the rejection of cynicism.

Blue Eyed Baby is a catchy song you’d imagine Lindisfarne may have tackled back in the day.

Mr Simpson proves heisnoslouchasa wordsmith, either. ‘Brace this defeat when it knocks at your door/You can see to the stars with your back on the floor/Well you came here with nothing…’

Simma has, it would seem, had to fight his demons and the apt covering of Rod Clements’ Whisky Highway is ‘my favourite song about drinking.’Thisacapella song proves that Simma is prepared to ‘turn corners’ in the pursuit of musical style contained herein. Again, this song is well executed with its layered multi harmonies. The ‘fluidity’ theme is further explored with The Drink: ‘It’s your joy, it’s your selfish destruction.’The cheerful instrumental backing offsets the potential pitfall lurking within the lyric.

Sixteen Tons, the old Merle Travis song, is given a Geordie workout and provides an outlet for Steve Cunningham’s excellent trumpet. A special word of praise goes to theexcellent female singers; Kimberley Duke and Grace Simpson.

I Know What You’re Really Thinking is disgustingly catchy with its wahwah guitars, backing vocals and theme of manipulation within relationships. Pop Song For An Old Girlfriend, consolidates the fact that this boy can write a catchy pop song.

Now Is The Time of Your Life is perhaps the key song on this set. Simma’s Geordie lilt is particularly evident as he recognises the ‘value of the moment’. ‘Happy New Year, this is the one we’ve talked about.’The closing Place The Face again rings the subject matter changes touching on the topic of autism.

This is a fine debut from Simma. He has not shied away from personal demons, or social issues, but has embraced, and shared, his life experiences to make an impressive and rewarding record. John Brindle

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