A little ray of dark edged sunshine…
Review by Gary Cordwell
Release date: July 20 2015
A little ray of dark edged sunshine, that’s what this is. It gives you hope, it lets you know that Cowell hasn’t won. Despite his ‘make them famous in five minutes and then find someone else five minutes later’ ethos, there are still troubadours out there – racking up the miles in a beat up car, guitar in the back seat, picking up new stories and adventures in each new town he passes through, playing every pub, club, festival and phone box that he can find.
Funke And The Two Tone Baby is the rather cryptic pseudonym of the Kent based, one man “mechanical alt-blues” band consisting of one Dan Turnbull. The young acoustic guitarist began with a simple loop pedal and began to spread his roots organically to the point where his sound now includes a veritable array of pedals along with harmonica, stomp box, basslines and beatboxing all being utilized to create this unique sound. Ok, so we may have seen Ed Sheeran doing something similar and before him we can trace the lineage back to the great John Martyn but you’ll find no self-satisfied ginger twattery here (apologies to any gingers…that’s not why he’s a twat) – Funke’s sound is all his own, and it’s a joyous racket!
The album starts with the scruffy indie blues of ‘Not Enough Bonobo’, bouncy and cryptic – Turnbull complaining of “not enough Bonobo mate, too much chimpanzee”. Elsewhere we have a nice mix of styles, ‘Not Looking For It Anymore’ is the albums most outright bluesy moment – its beatboxing and electro/acoustic riff building up a nice head of steam. ‘The Boatman And The Thief’ is out and out folk – but then, isn’t every song with ‘Boatman’ in it’s title?
‘Anarchy’ quite rightly has a rougher, more confrontational tone (shades of Frank Turner perhaps) it’s messy solo spinning off into a rousing harmonica/ trombone bluesy, New Orleansy face off. Funke also touches upon gentle African rhythms, reggae beats and mellow acoustic fingerpicking. Only once or twice does it stray a bit too close to busker territory.
However, despite the jaunty, Summery overall tone there is a dark lyrical underbelly. The rigours of life on the road appear to be taking their toll upon our narrator. ‘I’m Not Well’ has Turnbull exhaustedly worrying about his state of mind while ‘Anchor’ sees him yearning for his… um, anchor. His port in a storm in those all too brief moments when he can press pause on his nomadic lifestyle. Several other songs touch upon mental and emotional trauma and it is in these moments, when the entertainers mask slips, that the music is at its most effective and heartfelt.
And yet he’s still out there somewhere, hurtling down some A-road to his next gig. He’s playing 43 festivals this Summer and he’ll go down a storm at them all, he’s the quintessential festival performer – y’know, the one you watch because you’ve found a comfy spot near the stage in a tent and you have a cold pint. You don’t know who he is when he walks onstage but he’ll be the one you remember with a smile when you get home. And spare him a though because the odds are that he’ll be somewhere far from home – so if you bump into him, buy him a drink, sit him down and say hi, be another temporary port in his storm.
7 out of 10
- Not Enough Bonobo
- Not Looking For It Anymore
- The Boatman And The Thief
- I’m Not Well
- If You’re Nice To Me
- Tales Of The Place I Live
- I Should’ve Stayed In Bed
- Medicine For The Soul