Clockwork Carousel

New Forest-based band Clockwork Carousel began the process of their debut album a few years ago, when frontman Martin Gregory decided to turn an old cow-shed on a farm in Lymington into a recording studio. The place was previously used for their band practice and during these sessions the dreams of converting it started. Against all advice from friends and family and after a lot of hard work, the “Cow Pen” became fully operational in Autumn of 2016. The band recorded 16 tracks over a few long weekend sessions there, with tracks made up from songs they had been playing live and a few that were born from the recording sessions. It took the band over six months to turn these tunes into presentable songs and out of the 16 recorded, only 10 made it onto the album. The album was finally mixed this summer 2018 by Chris Blakey, who has worked with top artists like Nick Cave and Bat for Lashes and he also plays Keyboards/Synths for electronic music pioneers ëDeath In Vegasí. It also helps that Chris is bass player Matt’s brother.

I am very excited to finally receive the album. I have followed their career with interest and seen them at numerous live shows. They did not want to just release a record that portrayed just what they do live, they wanted to add to their sound with a host of guest musicians. It’s difficult to really pigeonhole these guys as there are so many different elements within their music. At times you can hear Folk, Country, and a bit of Indie/Rock which is all spliced together with a slice of Americana. The five seasoned musicians bring together a real chemistry within their musical creation process and songwriting that is deeply embedded within all that they do. The album kicks off with “Lucy Ann” which has a beautiful atmospheric Ennio Morricone-inspired intro, with help from the talented Hope Schachter (Flute, Clarinet and Piano) and John Conway (Saxophone).

Clockwork Carousel

“I Guess You Win” is a slow, lazy Sunday afternoon sort of track that beautifully meanders along and Garth shows his under celebrated lap steel skills. Martin gives a smoothly delivered vocal performance that at times for some strange reason reminds me of “Pure Imagination” from Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. “Grateful” is a really catchy little number that bounces along with its foot-tapping melodies and uplifting celebration. “All Of My Heart” is Clockwork Carousel at their very best combining harmonica, piano, lap steel and guitars on this beautiful emotive love song that cannot fail to move you. “Heat-Seeking” sees the band upping the pace with a tune that has a much rockier feel and sounding like a country Ocean Colour Sceneí; with an injection of some great electric guitar work from Thin Wire Fence’s Darren Smith, along with some vocals and percussion from bandmate Jane De Vekey. If you have had the privilege over the Summer to see these guys live you will have no doubt heard “Into The Fire”. A great tune that has been a mainstay of the band’s live set for a while and a benchmark of their own original sound; with this version including the excellent Arthur Rathbone (Pachango/Selby And The Dharma Blitz) on piano, along with Joe Dunwoody on guitars and Lorna Sharpe on backing vocals.

“Stop The Enquiry”, along with the bands other notable ingredients has just the most exquisite guitar solo towards the end of the track that entrancingly leads to the close. The bandís first single to be released from the album is to be “Billy”; a Christmas song of sorts dealing with mindless consumption, fuelled by pressured shopping in the festive period. The song thankfully is a Christmas tune in disguise with no sleigh bells or school choir, just a thought-provoking message. The penultimate tune of the collection is “Country in G” where the band all seem to kick back and have a bit of fun with a bit of hoedown toward the end, with some more great harmonica from Bob Long. For the final track ‘Salut’ Martin wrote a sensitive tune about the horrors of suicide. The tune starts with some piano, clarinet and saxophone to create a slightly initial sombre feel; but as the mandolin, guitars and flute join in the tune it gives a slightly more optimistic feel – once again Martin completely nailing the vocals with a tender touching delivery, with the help of the locally based Carley Varley. For the last week or so I have lived with this record every day and throughout the 10 tracks the band and their musician friends have delivered something really special that could well be one of my favourite local releases of the year.

Track Listing
Lucy Ann
I Guess You Win
All of My Heart
Into the Fire
Stop the Enquiry
Country in G

Clockwork Carousel are
Martin Gregory – Lead Vocals and Acoustic Guitar
Chris Buckby – Drums
Garth Finlay – Mandolin, Lap steel, Guitars, Vocals
Steve Dyer – Electric Guitar
Matt Blakey – Bass

Guest Musicians
Chris Blakey – Piano/Synths
Hope Schachter – Flute/Clarinet/Piano
Carley Varley – Vocals
Joe Dunwoody – Guitar
Ellie Dunwoody – Vocals
Arthur Rathbone – Piano
John Conway – Saxophone
Jane De Vekey – Percussion
Darren Smith – Guitar
Lorna Sharpe – Vocals
Bob Long – Harmonica


Words by David Chinery (Chinners).

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to MySpace