The (Rude) Mechanicals Band
Exit, Pursued by a Bear
Recorded and mixed by Drew Coleman
A gem of an album, combining bittersweet contemporary style acoustic ballads, with Shakespeare’s words and a subtle folk-blues swing.
The recording opens with ‘Sonnet 5’, strings picking out a simple motif before the band comes in, Finch delivering the lyric in a simple, unaffected style. The waltz ‘Come Away, Death,” (Twelfth Night) opens acapella, the band providing a subtle but effective underpinning, violin and viola referencing the quasi-baroque vocal line, weaving counter-melodies.
The album is much more than a worthy and scholarly exercise. Finch’s gift is to find the underlying meaning of the words and make them work as lyrics, the listener is drawn into the story. He has a keen ear for a hook, “Ophelia’s song” is particularly strong, with electric guitar sketching out a blues pattern, his voice mournful.
Finch has been a fixture on the Warwickshire music scene for almost ten years now, recording and performing both solo and with the Dirty Band, without ever making the breakthrough that his talent deserves.
A song-writing completion by the RSC led to a performance at the theatre alongside Gigspanner and Rufus Wainwright, and BBC exposure. Finch recruited long time Dirty Band members Jools Street (violin) and Ben Haines (drums). Jools brought classical player Katrin Gilbert to the band. Bass legend John Parker (Nizlopi, Will Pound Band) competed the party.
Finch tells FATEA:
“The aim of the project is to engage and entertain people, and either reacquaint people with poetry they know and love or just introduce them to poems they may not otherwise have read. We hope to make the poetry accessible and enjoyable and champion writers that we love.”
FATEA asked Finch about his writing process, he told us:
“I find it a lot easier working from an established text than starting my original songs from scratch. Once I read and reread a poem and get a feel for the words, the meaning and the rhythm, it seems to take shape and a melody begin to suggest itself. I tend to let it gestate in the background and when the time is right it's like a raincloud has built up and is ready to pour. That's when I get a demo done to share with the group.”
The group has some live dates coming up, and should be sought out. They promise an interesting and diverting evening; Finch has ever been a consummate showman, with a wry, self-deprecating style. FATEA asked him what we could expect.
“Our live show has also begun to incorporate an element of immersive theatrical performance with a small group of actors lead by my partner Lisa Franklin which adds another exciting and unique dimension to playing live.”
And finally, we asked if there would be a volume 2.
There will definitely be a follow up as our version of Cargoes (a John Masefield poem) (bonus track- not available on the Spotify version) hints at. We plan to continue with our Shakespearean explorations and expand to include other poets.
Katrin and I are developing more Shakespeare songs as well as pieces based on Edward Thomas and Gary Snyder poems. I'm sure there will be more instrumentals from the talented string section too.
A fascinating record from an intriguing and capable artist. Well worth checking out.
Laura Thomas 11/05/17