Review of 'Happy Ever After' A New Album by Simon James

The opening song 'Last Goodbye' begins as if it is a vinyl record. That crackle noise that take me back 30 years and then you hear a string quartet which I wasn't expecting at all on a country/americana album. It's storyline is that of a bitter break-up.

The title track 'Happy Ever After' is all about finding love. With it's pedal steel and underlying strings it is a slightly more traditional feeling ballad. With subtle harmonies from Sam Coe, it's a beautiful song that slowly builds in intensity.

'Solitary Road' is a lonely place to be. It starts with a solitary piano then introduces guitar and is a ballad for the first two, quite thought provoking verses, then all of a sudden the fiddle comes in at a jolly pace that gets your foot tapping along. Then it slows right down again with just piano and Simon's vocal to the end of the track.

I love all this album but my favourite song is 'Wishing Well'. Fiddle heavily features in this fantastic rocky track that sounds so familiar in parts that I thought I had heard it somewhere before. It's a song that highlights the fact that unfortunately there are bad people living in this world.

'Oh Honey' - has become a favourite of mine having heard Simon sing this acoustically on numerous occasions always accompanied by Sam Coe harmonising. On the surface it sounds like quite a cheerful song with its foot tapping beat, but when you really listen to the lyrics you discover that it's topic is all about a breakdown.

'Flower in the Rain' is a beautiful acoustic sounding, but not acoustic, ballad with a stand out fiddle in its musical arrangement. It is a story of alcoholism and its effects on a relationship. You would think it would be a depressing song but it's not at all.

When his relationship breaks down he decides to leave town, that is the subject of 'I Don't Know'. The song conjures up an image of a small american town, with cowboys drinking in a saloon whilst playing poker. It's because of the musical instrumentation, with its 'western' sounding guitar and drum beat. How many times have we heard that sort of arrangement in a cowboy film.

I just want to turn up the volume and immerse myself in this next song. I love the arrangement, that gorgeous rocky guitar solo and the emotion portrayed in it. It's all about addiction but there is that one person in your life that makes you see that you have 'Something Worth Fighting For'

'The Rose & The Ribbon' is a break-up song that has an acoustic feel as the predominant instrument is Simon's acoustic guitar with all other instruments stepping in and out of the song. Harmonies that are almost as strong sounding as the lead vocal making me feel this is much more of a duet in style.

'Songs That Were Meant For You' is about a songwriter finding his inspiration. I absolutely love the guitar riff that features all the way through and the hand clapping throughout is catching because I did find myself wanting to clap along. This song transports me to a place in America's deep south.

With its pedal steel guitar and a lilting melody 'Slow The Night' is about the excitement of a new relationship. He is watching her sleep and doesn't want the night to end. He doesn't want to have to leave her. Then when he does leave he wants everything to be over quickly so that he can get back to her. A very relatable song. We all know how new love feels.

'Ready To Fly' is about determination to succeed. I love a song that builds, which this one does quite dramatically but then once it has reached it's peak is subsides down to one note. Superb.

'Happy Ever After' is an absolute masterpiece. I love every note played and every word sung.

You need this album in your life and it will be available on all streaming sites on 28th June.

If you would like a physical cd, they will be available at the albums launch at Night People in Manchester on 28th June.

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