[sic] Magazine

The Room in the Wood – The Room in the Wood

The Room in the Wood comprises Dave Jackson (lyrics and voice) and Paul Cavanagh (guitars and music). The pair worked together previously within eighties miserablists The Room.

Though The Room were ostensibly part of the Liverpool post-punk axis (think Bunnymen, Pale Fountains etc) there’s a folk/blues feel to The Room in the Wood and even a dashing of psyche rock. The Doors are a likely influence.

I can’t but help thinking that neither of the opening pair of singles (see videos) quite do this album justice. ‘Greedy Stars’ feels like your typical ‘comeback’ song from a previously overlooked artist. Jackson’s ‘everyman’ vocals aren’t quite rich and sonorous enough to push this chugging pop song into Nick Cave or The National territory. The addition of gospel backing vocals saves the opening track from innocuousness.

‘Magical Thinking’ seeks to promote the mystical aspect of this record but, guitar riff aside, it’s another lacklustre affair that sees Jackson basically reciting the inventory of your local crystal shop.

That riff is undeniably fun though. Catchy as hell.

The rest is a folk, rock, blues odyssey through the fertile imagination of Jackson. I’m reminded of a weary traveler holding court at some isolated tavern telling fables to a rapt audience. The musical accompaniment to these tall tales is unimpeachable. So many styles are explored here, expertly rendered by Cavanagh. ‘Snowblind’ puts me in mind of the marvelous Shack. ‘Nothing Is Real’ goes all Nick Drake (and lets be honest, who doesn’t?) Yet something is holding this record back from greatness and it isn’t simply that hiccup of the opening duo. I think it has to do with Jackson’s vocal. This isn’t a criticism per se, but at times this album is a little too talky. Jackson alternates between talking and singing throughout the record. Indeed there are moments where he seems to hesitate between the two. When he does go for it he, has an interesting voice not unlike a Guy Chadwick or Carlo van Putten. Yet he keeps hesitating, pulling back and that’s the pity.

The resultant album sounds as confused and non-committal as its singer. A patchy affair with intermittent morsels of wonder.