Nothing Beyond This Northern Town/Have Mercy
One voice plus one guitar makes a very powerful sound.
Apart from the zillion high profile and over commercialised releases for Record Store Day, genuine bonafide Single releases are few and far between these days; so when Luke Whittemore sent this disc I was understandably intrigued.
The two tracks that make the Double A-Side (as we used to say) are similar in as much as they are folk songs sung by one man playing an acoustic guitar; but the content is poles apart.
Have Mercy is a Dylanesque bittersweet love song; and I only say ‘Dylanesque’ because Luke plays simple chords and blows a mean harmonica; but to my ears there’s more than a passing nod to Townes Van Zandt’s drinking buddies in the construction and delivery. This is American Folk thankfully; not English Folk Music.
Nothing Beyond This Northern Town is just as simple a lilting Folk song; but with a very subtle Political subtext that could get lost; if not listened to as intently as I did or under a bigger production.
Whittlemore has a clever way with words on both songs. But specifically on the latter, the deadpan way he sings ‘there ain’t nothing wrong with a fire in your heart/it’s your unsatisfied mind that holds the key’ makes the message even more powerful than anything we screamed during the heady days of Punk Rock.
If this single sells enough copies and generates enough interest there is an EP of more fulsome versions of these songs and a few others due in the Autumn. But if I was to offer any sage words of advice; I wouldn’t tread too far from this stark path as the songs are stunningly good and Whittemore’s voice has a certain appeal that I’ve not heard in a long time. With the likes of Ed Sheeran selling out stadiums, there must be room for a lad from the East Midlands who is the ‘real deal.’