[sic] Magazine

Chris Bradley – At The Outpost

Chris Bradley is the real name of the Marvel comics hero-turned-villain Bolt, a character who commanded electrokinesis and suffered from devastating headaches. Happily, this Chris Bradley does not inspire the very same. This Chris Bradley is an Edinburgh-based, eclectic singer-songwriter who projects confidence in place of lightning, variety instead of forcefields. Disappointed? Don’t be.

Bradley roams successfully from Neil Young sepia tones to Nick Drake laments, from piano-led storytelling that occasionally recalls James Taylor to power-chord pop. Utilising his day job compositional skills, Bradley’s songs are lush and narrative-based. Furthermore, he has friends in the right places having become an established part of Aberfeldy ‘s chamber-pop bosom since 2007. Riley Briggs naturally therefore repays a few favours and cameos on guitar solo throughout the irrepressible midpoint “The Beatles”.

Peculiarly the easygoing lead single “Waltzing” places late on the tracklisting but leaves an impression, just as the folkish strains of the opener “The Man I Love” does. It’s not the gay anthem one might expect, and is instead a powerful paean to Bradley’s late father that comes back-to-back with “Beggar To Fall”, a decidedly more up-tempo affair. In turn, it sets the scene for the country-fried, toe-tapping sunshine provided by “Golden Girl”, a track that hints at The Allman Brothers catalogue while suggesting something The Cave Singers might produce after several years of AA meetings. Later still, “Running Song” has a dose of the Elton Johns to it, bobbing along happily in piano-pop country.

Listening to At The Outpost in full is repaid with a strong finale. “Not What It Was” is highly assured stuff, built on solid repeats and comes filled out by electric and acoustic guitar patterning before breaking into incongruous yet welcome synth spirals. The sparse, guitarless stomp of “Your Close Friend” is a particular highpoint taking in a boisterous rhythm borrowed from the Blues as it goes.

At The Outpost suggests either a sense of wilful ostracism in its creator, or one who comfortably calls the road his home. Whichever, Chris Bradley seems comfortable on this release. It’s emotional but not overly revealing, and it appears that when he drops his guard further it will more than pay to be around.

At The Outpost is released March 29th 2010 on 17 Seconds Records and will be followed by the re-issue of Bradley’s debut album Voices.