Monday 17 August 2015

Get Me Free #33: John Howard & The Night Mail - Intact & Smiling

Article by KevW

It's quite probable that most people won't have heard of John Howard & The Night Mail before, but when you discover who the band actually are, it's almost certain that some of the music made by the respective members of this quartet will be very familiar. John Howard himself released his first solo album way back in 1975, but has been, musically at least, something of a recluse for some time. It was Robert Rotifer (of the band Rotifer) who coaxed him out of retirement to work on this new project, which also includes bassist Andy Lewis, perhaps best known for his work with Paul Weller, and drummer Ian Button who's worked with Death In Vegas amongst others. Their self-titled album will be released on German label Tapete (this track has recently featured on and lent its title to a cover mount CD on the German Rolling Stone magazine) on August 21st.

'Intact & Smiling' is the kind of classic indie/rock/pop that doesn't really come with a time stamp. You could say it wouldn't have been out of place as part of the Britpop scene, but its classier and better written than that may suggest. Instantly likeable, the piano and "ahh ahhs" that usher the song in lend themselves perfectly to a single, and the lyrics are far more poetic and clever (I know that may sound bad, but really, it's totally the opposite) than many better know acts making similar noises. The production is spot on too, never going too overboard yet making sure this track is given the attention it deserves. 'Intact & Smiling' is clean and crystal clear with just a brush of strings to add a little grandeur to the chorus. Given current trends, it's sadly unlikely that John Howard & The Night Mail will be bothering the top ten, but lets hope this unsung hero gets a bit more attention this time around.

John Howard & The Night Mail's website

Pre-order the album

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