Although it is a clichéd term bandied about by lazy music writers struggling to find a clever label to pin on a songwriter, Will Tattersdill is a modern day troubadour, the very embodiment of a collector of story’s and purveyor of musical narratives and acoustic parables. Under the bizarre nom de plume of FaceOmeter he strides the byways of an alternate version of England, dispensing wit and wisdom to all those he comes across.
The title of the album comes from the idea that “People say that when you’ve failed as an artist you spend your time barreling between tiny clubs and village halls, playing irrelevancies to crowds who’ve never heard of you and putting all your creative energy into desperately squeezing out four or five new songs a year. To which I always say: why wait for failure?” But stadium gigs filled with tons of hi-tech gear producing industrial level noise pollution is a modern invention and just another example of how progress isn’t always the way forward. What Will describes above surely is the way music has operated since the year dot, if not before, the way the music gods intended it.
And inevitability the lyrical content of the songs are where much of the joy of the album lies, quirky word play, weird witticism, surreal scenarios, strange juxtapositions and the minutiae of everyday life put under the microscope fly past in a scattergun salvo requiring three or four listens to catch and appreciate their depth and intelligence. That isn’t to say that the music doesn’t fulfill its part of the bargain either. Sea shanty’s, klezmatic inspirations, skewed sing-alongs, rustic folk gems and even subtle lullabies act as the perfect vehicle for the complex lyricism and the wonderfully named Hectic Eclectic Folk Choir adds a layer of brooding eastern bloc intensity.
It is also a testament to the production of Dean McCarthy (Laura Marling, Stornaway and the recently reviewed stable mates The Magic Lantern) that the album retains the necessary bedroom recording idiosyncrasies that are necessary to keep the bubble from bursting.
It is a strange world that has spawned these songs, part kitchen sink drama-land, part Olde England, part Enid Blyton and sharing borders with a myriad of possible alternative versions of this world. It may be a scary prospect to try to navigate through the backwaters of this odd landscape but with FaceOmeter’s hand on the rudder you can just sit back and enjoy the view.