Watchword by Mr Love and Justice

out on Homegrown Records at Swindon indie pop folk band Mr Love and Justice are launching their latest album, Watchword, at The Vic in Old Town on October 19. The watchword literally of this band, led by Steve Cox, is their essential English quality, with an early Beatles influence and beautifully penned songs that stay in the mind.

The CD is top and tailed by instrumentals kicking off with Trees, an hypnotic piece of pretty guitar, jazzy drums and illustrious keyboards.

The Shilling Folk has some stunning close harmonies and is pure Mr Love and Justice as it has that village folk feel to it, with a box drum tom tom beat and lilting melody that conjures up the days of yore.

This Word is a Dylanesque tune, a poem set to music. It has a slower pace and some lovely guitar which compliments rather than overpowers the vocals. The title track We Raise The Watchword is a sway along song with a catchy hook, sunny chorus and glorious fade out ending.

The whole album is well rounded and mixes past, present and future in a melodic recipe of folk, pop and rock.

Everything is a happy song with warm vocals over rock guitar and a lush guitar solo to finish. The Bottleneck Song is a shorter, bluesy number with bite and Sunday Morning, Sunset Town is a poignant track sung in minor key with simple backing vocals and great echo. The song paints a soundscape with some haunting brass, again a cracking guitar solo and a psychedelic ending that fades into a police siren.

Never Know Why has an Americana feel, moving away from the familiar English folk. It has a blues streak and angel choir backing while We Are Chartist is strong track, foreboding and defiant. The name reminds me of my history A-level about Parliamentary reforms and is just as scary. The backing vocals are reminiscent of a Gregorian chant and the powerful track ends in a keyboards finale fade.

Blood And Oil has a guitar backbone and rock guitar headline with some intricate and exciting riffs while Build A Fire is a story song with a throbbing drum beat. Driving Home conjures up the Maypole on the green effect but with a rocky beat at the heart - and it really works.

The CD ends on another instrumental with the sounds of India wafting across sunbaked, white walled streets. It has the Beatles influence again but this time it is the Maharishi years, and the sounds of the sitar. This corker of an album has a number of guest artist including Barry Andrews from XTC, Canadian singer/songwriter David Celia, Joan Besen from Prairie Oyster, David Headon from Invisible Inc, along with Swindon’s Rob Beckinsale, Nick Weaver, Brendan Hamley and Matt Wood.

Flicky Harrison