I bet it’s been twenty years since Rory McLeod’s first recording of multi-tracked, harmonica-fuelled, adrenalin-laced whoops and hollers found its way into the hands of Peter Bellamy. For months after, anyone and everyone was bombarded by the tape from Peter with the exhortation, “You have GOT to listen to this…” Sadly, Peter is not around to hear Rory’s acapella treatment of Hank William’s ‘Rambling Man’, Dylan’s ‘The Man In Me’ or the traditional ‘Oh, Death” on Brave Faces, so I suppose it’s down to me to shout, “You have GOT to listen to this…”
Unaccompanied covers are far from the whole story – there’s a load of his own stuff too. Typically, Rory packs every digital second of available space (the nineteen tracks have an astonishing total playing time of 78.12 …) with a dazzling array of lyrics both prose and rhyming, spoken and sung in a helter-skelter, roller-coaster ride through a welter of emotions, issues and musical tomfoolery. Both vocals and instruments (guitar, harmonica, trombone, bass and all sorts of percussion) are stacked into great teetering layers which threaten to tumble down and make the whole thing a nonsense – but never do. His music combines the expertise of a virtuoso with the enthusiasm of a child, while his writing cuts straight to the heart of his subject, be it poverty, child abuse, relationships or having a drink or three. For example, in ‘No More Blood For Oil’ he speaks for many of us when he states “…we’re not disturbing the peace, we’re disturbing the war”.
Rory McLeod is a rare, unique and beautiful talent, and Brave Faces is a true reflection of what he does. You ought to see him live, though…