This is a review of "I Hope Everything's Alright In Your World" recorded by Kerouac. The review was written by Sam Saunders in 2003.
Andy Aitchison and Dan Little are in ambitious territory with this CD. There are the basic shapes of three good songs. Several decent musicians came to the Moor Lane sessions in York And there were some adventurous ideas about how to produce them.
The end result is sweet and convincing enough. But perversely it’s less impressive than a straight cut with guitar bass and drums might have been. In addition to Aitchison’s fairly plain voice there are keyboards, flute, cello, violin and various production tricks dropped in among the guitars. My notes tell me "horns" but my ears can’t find them. I’m trying not to write "anodyne" because that makes it sound like toothpaste, when anodyne really means "without pain" and that’s what I need to explain. "Goodbye Notes" has hand claps, even. But it still doesn’t disturb or penetrate the gentle feeling of thoughtful and well-schooled suburban comfort. The quasi-improvised flute lines are just too nice to be true. The musicians seem to have added their lines and left. It doesn’t sound to me as though there was any "creative tension".
The expectations set up by the name of the immortal and shudderingly dangerous Jack Kerouac, and the biog notes’ reference to Bert Jansch (outsider hero before anyone knew you could be an outsider hero) are maybe too grand. Instead of drug crazy bebop sax or shockingly rough folk blues guitar wizardry we have mildly jazzed folkish songs of Don McLean or Chris de Burgh proportions. Melodies are tearful and Travisish. "She knows the way to break my heat again", sings Aitchison against a luscious cello part, leading onto a singing trillish flute part. Of course she does. You’re a big softy and obvious with it.
I would also mention a very strange Who-induced intro to "Goodbye Notes". There are three segments to it, (including two bars of Pinball Wizard chords), but the joins are out of sync in a clumsy/experimental sort of way. This might fit a different approach but in this context it just sounds like two bad mistakes in a row. Perhaps what we learn is that even when you have got musical talent and good song writing ideas, you need to get out and about and play your stuff lots of times to real audiences before you record any of it. I keep saying it, but on one ever listens.