mike davies column september 2020

Having reviewed the new SICKY album, This Is My Life, last month and talking about the sometimes naff sound quality, it seems that was down to a poor transfer rather than an inherent flaw. So, while there’s still some reservations on the production front, I’m happy to update and say that the title track reveals hints of early Tyrannosaurus Rex Marc Bolan and further endorse the bouncy pop of 17 (more T Rex this time), the funky For It and the excellent Irish Snow while also adding extra recommendations to the stridealong swaggery pop of For It, the juddery Bolan/Bowie shapes of I Had A Good Time, the snatched vocal urgency of the swelling Room To Breathe and the more laid back slip and slide feel of album closer Way To Run which, free from the tech gremlins, proves to be a little gem. Released at the end of the month, check it out on https://sicky.hearnow.com/this-is-my-life

nomad dooley

Based in Stratford, NOMAD DOOLEY (not his real name, obviously) fronts a five piece folk rock outfit that take their influences from The Levellers side of the tracks and feature David Smaylem on cajon alongside violinist Hazel Flannigan, second acoustic guitarist Anthony Cope and Lady D on bodhran. Together they’ve self-released Trying To Survive, a collection of largely protest-fuelled numbers that kicks off with Flannigan leading the way on Billy, succinctly described as normal working bloke who refused to let the bastards grind him down, acoustic guitars providing the muscle on Money Alone, an eco-themed song about not prioritising corporate interests and greed over the survival of the planet.

Less strident with fingerpicked chords and a staccato rhythm over which the violin soars, If Life Was is a call to grab life by the collar and squeeze it before a touch of Come On Eileen makes its way into the title track, inspired apparently by seeing some privileged ‘so called expert’ pontificating on the BBC, again another number about living your life and being the best you can be.


Until The Last Ride heads back to the 40s for a wartime love story between village girl Evie and Tom; this being a folk song he’s naturally sent off to fight, though, going against tradition, he actually survives, returns and they live together to a ripe old age. Another number on which Flannigan plays a prominent role, the mid-tempo strummed Freedom Fighter’s a crowd favourite tribute to Che Guevara while, more raggle taggle gypsy violin colours flash through A Cornish Memory, a reflection on a blissful band experience at the Bude & Stratton Folk Festival back in 2015, jamming, drinking and soaking in Jackie Oates. On a similar note, Reality reflects chilling out at a good vibes spiritual place “a million miles from any town” before finishing up with the crowd friendly shout back the title refrain chirpy folk rock of Stars In Your Life and, finally, Peace about spending your life looking for contentment and finally realising it was in front of him all the time, the booklet photo neatly placing it next to a photo of Mr Dooley on the tranquil banks of the Avon.

It doesn’t stretch too far out of a basic template and while Flannigan’s a fine player perhaps there’s just a little too much reliance on her and not enough variation elsewhere, while the vocals could do with a little more light and shade too. That said, it’s a very creditable calling card.

Recently No 6 in Peru, THE GORSTY LEE STREET CHOIR serve up a sample of their upcoming From A Boy EP (which will feature strings by Ride’s Mark Gardener) with Lowborn & Stargazing, a jubilant, upbeat xylophone tinkled number featuring Ash Sheehan on trumpet and written by Michael Clapham while recovering from an operation and drawing on Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain for inspiration, though Dylan Thomas also gets a look in on the lyrics.

roots-and-branches.com 2020