State Of The Union - State of the Union Album Review
As far back as the mid-'80s, Boo Hewerdine's name was liberally splashed across sleeves and record-labels that adorned releases by a band called The Bible. Nobody predicted that the clever radio-friendly pop-rock singles such as "Graceland", "Honey Be Good" and "Crystal Palace" would sink without trace, a travesty to this day.
All this injustice led to Hewerdine winding up the band and heading off into a sunset of Americana with co-songwriter Darden Smith and also embarking on a fruitful career of crafting tunes for the likes of Eddi Reader and Clive Gregson, as well as knocking out a few class strumalongs for himself, of course. In 2010, US guitarist Brooks Williams was enlisted to fill in for a support act at Hewerdine's annual Ely Christmas charity bash, a move which resulted in the eventual formation of State of the Union.
A few months later, an album was roughly-sketched out, ready for recording at a Glasgow studio. To the pair's surprise, the entire album that you are reading about was completed in a mere couple of days. It doesn't show, either - the quality of the recordings is as good as many long-winded projects of a similar nature, as is most of the songwriting, which is essentially a blend of folk, country and roots music.
Much of "State of the Union" wouldn't sound out of place at the Cambridge Folk Festival or Perth's annual Southern Fried Festival, in particular the opening superior pairing of the languid "Darkness" and the sprightly Hewerdine-penned "23 Skidoo", a song so simple it sounds like you've known it all your life. Then there's the deft delight of the title-track, an instrumental made for swinging in hammocks on a hot midsummers' day.
As well as their self-penned collaborations, Williams and Hewerdine have also had a crack at two cover versions. The traditional end of the repertoire touches base with "Peg and Awl", a sweet and dusty shoemaker's homage that still sounds relevant today, although the cobbler in question is happy to lay down his wearying hand-tools as a trade-off for a new labour-saving machine. The second cover is perhaps an odd choice - Pet Shop Boys' "Rent" will always belong to Tennant and Lowe, although the State of the Union version is pleasingly loyal to the austerity portrayed in the original.
Overall, you'll warm to State of the Union's "State of the Union", not just for the laid-back outback simplicity of it all, but also for the short running time - just 33 minutes. Sometimes brevity is a selling-point, even when the music is as good as these eleven songs.
As if you need any prompting, the duo are out on tour during April and May 2012 - see them.
- Fri 24th May 2013 State of the Union, Brooks Williams, Boo HewerdineWest End Centre (Aldershot)Buy Tickets
- Tue 28th May 2013 State of the Union, Brooks Williams, Boo HewerdineCaffe Borsa (Dundee)Buy Tickets
- Thu 30th May 2013 State of the Union, Boo Hewerdine, Brooks WilliamsCCA [Centre for Contemporary Arts] (Glasgow)Buy Tickets
- Fri 21st Jun 2013 State of the Union, Boo Hewerdine, Brooks Williams, Emily Ma...Royal Native Oyster Store (Whitstable)Buy Tickets
- Sat 27th Jul 2013 Cambridge Folk Festival 2013, The Mavericks, KT Tunstall, Ma...Cherry Hinton Hall (Cambridge)Buy Tickets
- Thu 19th Sep 2013 State of the Union, Brooks Williams, Boo HewerdineLatest Music Bar [formerly Joogleberry] (Brighton)Buy Tickets
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