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Review: Geoff Lawrence – Similar Life

Knowing Geoff’s music from bands like Slugworth and Vince Petchy, with their jittery guitar lines and jumpy nature, Similar Life certainly starts at the opposite end of the musical spectrum. Lush piano sits upon a gentle wall of reverb, the harsh reality of lockdown for younger people told by his daughter Effie (of Anorak Patch) with one of her best vocal performances to date. It’s a stunning, emotional, piece of music – one hell of a way to start the album. Musically, Wasps is a cool sounding track. The slightly more abrasive synth sound does actually conjure thoughts of a swarm of wasps and the choruses sound huge, the echoing guitars reinforced by the horns.

Headlines is another track that seems to be inspired by the last few years with it’s hook of “Too many headlines, none worth reading”. I love the backing vocals on this track too, there’s something really fun about them on a track that’s already a brilliant slice of joy. The tempo drops down again for Perfectly Frank, the song driven along by piano but with some wonderful strings in the mix too. Dear Sweet Taylor throws the record in another direction – it’s Geoff as I’ve never heard him before, a completely different style, a totally different sound. It’s brilliant. The vocal stabs providing the rhythm during the verses with Geoff’s voice sounding the most powerful I’ve heard it. The arrangement is perfect, just a joy to listen to.

Saccharine is quite a progressive track, the vocals and acoustic intro giving way to a sea of instruments. The main electric guitar part reminds me a bit of early Radiohead but the way the song drops between massively layered vocals into quiet, one guitar + one voice, sections is what makes it interesting to listen to. Title track Similar Life approaches Geoff’s Parkinsons diagnosis and the limitations of doing some of the things he loves, like performing music, something that he’s done consistently throughout his life. It’s a moving track, beautifully orchestrated, with honest lyrics.

Similar Life may well be a shift from his previous bands but, with the depth of styles, the often witty lyricism and the interesting structures, it’s undeniable that Geoff Lawrence is one of the greats when it comes to songwriting. This record has a whole plethora of guest musicians from the local music scene who’ve helped realise this monster of an album, adding depth to the songs and Tom Donovan has done a wonderful job of bringing that together into a dynamic record but, at their core, every track on this album is a joy to behold. I implore you to give it a listen.

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