Sing Under Bridges
Quality Adult Orientated Folk music from Northern Ireland
Singer-Songwriters cover many spectrum’s from bed-sit geniuses singing about their cats, through to the Social commentators and ending with septuagenarians who still think the USA is at War in Vietnam, so when you find one of a similar age and outlook as yourself, who actually uses melodies and well crafted lyrics to talk about subjects that you yourself are concerned with, they are to be cherished.
That’s exactly how I feel about Anthony Toner; from Northern Ireland, who I only discovered last year, but feel I’ve known all of my life. I stress that he is from the Northern part of Ireland as that means he has lived through the horrendous Troubles that blighted that country and has come out of the other side scratched and scraped but with an attitude to life, love and family that has to be commended.
Although SING UNDER THE BRIDGES will probably be filed under ‘Folk’ in records shops; what used to be known as ‘Blue Eyed Soul’ filters throughout and manages to blend ‘Folk’ with ‘Easy Listening’ in a very grown up way and is the best way to describe album opener, Tell Me Something I Don’t Know. The song about a doomed love affair between a ‘big fish in a small pond’ who is ‘punching above his weight’ with a green eyed beauty comes complete with a cool Rhythm and Blues backdrop that conjures up Ulster’s other golden voice; Van Morrison.
This is followed by the harrowing tale of a mental breakdown; St. Paul’s 8th Floor Farewell Blues which is best summed up by the lines, “My Mother said/You should stay clear of that damaged boy/He’s been reducing you to tears for years and years.”
Things don’t get any cheerier with Things Fall Apart which grabbed me by the throat the first time I heard it and its impression will be left on my brain for a very long time. Toner tries to look back on the happy moments in his life – driving along the New Jersey Turnpike at night to see Southside Johnny play on 42nd Street; but ends up comparing it the Road To Hell, because he couldn’t get parked. His old LP’s only give him the Blues and a Mother looking down at her child evokes the classic line – “There’s Nothing Worse Than Two Generations Disappointed in each other”. Okay I realise the writer’s glass is ‘half empty’ rather than ‘half full’ but that’s how I and countless other feel these days.
Hurrah! There is a love song and a happy one at that – the brass section swing like monkeys in the jungle on Bed & Breakfast as our hero tell his lover; ‘If I was a DJ/I’d dedicate every love song to you’ and when he encounters a check point (common in Ulster for 30 years) he would leave the car and walk the 60 miles to get home to be beside her. And they say romance is dead!
Just to prove what a great songwriter Anthony Toner is, listen to Broken in Advance which is intrinsically British in content but is a reflection on living in this broken world and the effect it has on us all. The song is written through the eyes of a man returning home past a group of youths, who have ‘missed the boom but got the crash/and they’d love to redistribute my cash.’ Later he is lying in bed in the ‘deepest, darkest part of night’ with his heart rate thumping/but this dream isn’t about falling/this is the one about jumping.’ Yet again Anthony Toner has taken a really sensitive subject and made it extremely listenable over and over again.
For me Anthony Toner is one of our finest singer-songwriters and deserves to be heard by a much wider audience than just music lovers in the Province.