SHORTY
THE BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER NENE
[ShoeTown Records]

Third album from the best connected man in Northampton, Chris White. Following on from the excellent The Northampton Underground is another 14 tracks of collaborative tunes, mostly recorded and mixed in an Abington garage.

If you don’t know, White trades in a sort of Jeff Lynne, Brian Wilson, Paul McCartney classicism laced with some ’90s tropes – there’s plenty of accoutrements of brass and bongos and the like to beef up the sound. Opening track ‘Beautiful Enough’ has a breezy Britpop feel, a lovely warm number that you could imagine sitting comfortably on a Boo Radleys album. ‘Cooking For One’, which follows, is a wah-wahed/phased delight, Stevie G adding some lovely guitar feels to elevate the mood. Jim Doherty and Lindsay Spence add their unique voices to the power-pop of ‘Friday Night’, whilst the trio of Danie Hollobach, Simmone McClean, and Shereen Ingram all help make ‘Hard To Hold On’ a soulful melancholic-pop winner.

The album continues to fire different rounds at you: White goes it alone on the psychy ‘Is It Real’, rootsy Celtic vibes flow from the Pat Fish-assisted ‘Keep It Simple’. On ‘Living In The Same House’ those Sgt Pepper touches are both pure self-indulgence and pure joy. Sophie Joiner elevates everything with some wonderful cello. The song is dapple of sunlight during these strange times.

This is the sort of album that radiates its love of music; the process of making music bringing people together. When ‘Love Me Or Hate Me’ reminds you of Pulp it feels fine – we’re all just singing from the same hymn sheet. Epic country-rock closer ‘You Fill The Air’ doesn’t even feature White – instead it is sung wonderfully by Steve Ward and Simonne McClean. And still White’s great songwriting skills come through loud and clear.

The Bridge Over The River Nene is a minor triumph. Fans of power-pop and Britpop will lap this up, as will fans of classic 60s-style songwriting. Heck, there’s enough going on here to please everyone at some point. It’s another clean sweep for the Northampton underground!

Phil Moore

The Bridge Over The River Nene is out now via the usual digital platforms