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Steve Soden and the Sweet Peas - Welcome to the Asylum (PB Music)

Slightly eccentric third album by Birmingham-based singer-songwriter and poet Steve Soden, who for this album gathers over twenty musicians together over a twelve month period to record the dozen songs that makes up WELCOME TO THE ASYLUM. The songs have a highly retro feel, particularly the opening song Mean Woman Blues, a doo-wop pop tune that could easily have been recorded in the 1950s, a song that wouldn't be out of place on the Grease soundtrack. Recorded in Bromsgrove and Droitwich, then mastered in London, the dozen songs appear to be imbued with a tongue-in-cheek quality, almost a pastiche rather than a tribute to the glory days of rock and roll. If the songs don't entirely convince us of their eccentricity, then the accompanying DVD film promo, a bizarrely grotesque vignette, shows Steve Soden in Hammer Horror B-Movie mode. It's a bit dodgy, but it's meant to be. The fact that the songs are listed on the inner sleeve in a representation of a vintage juke box goes one step further to indicate that this is really a bit of fun. Lost My Way, another throwback to an entirely different era, has a certain sincerity, as does My Heart's on Fire, but elsewhere one or two numbers appear to be borrowed from Leonard Cohen's catalogue melodically speaking, such as Waiting on a Dream, very much reminiscent of the lilting Dance Me To The End of Love and then again in the closing title song Welcome to the Asylum, which is almost like First We Take Manhattan delivered by Alistair Crowley.   

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky