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After Hours, Close To Dawn (Dew Process)

In some quarters it would be a good thing to be linked with Thirsty Merc or Eskimo Joe. Those quarters would be folks with a sense for what sells, for what can be digested by people who aren’t exactly hung up on music but can be persuaded to buy things. Good business sense.

Let’s be clear then that when I invoked those two acts in relation to Kingswood I’m not praising.

Kingswood’s After Hours, Close To Dawn is as efficiently constructed, as “clever” in knowing the market at which its aiming, and as hard to differentiate from its competitors as anything either Thirsty Merc or Eskimo Joe managed.

There are half a dozen styles attempted here, from tough man-with-heart balladry (as most recently assayed by Rag ’n’ Bone Man) and vaguely moves (ala Bernard Fanning) to big treading rock (in the mould of a thousand Midwest arena fillers); from what you might call classic Boz Scaggs and vaguely R&B-influenced pop to a beer-y party band who have read about The Faces.

Each style is done with enough attention that picking the flaws in the technique would be pedantic. So, credit given.

It is as bloodless as Thirsty Merc and Eskimo Joe, as devoid of anything that feels like it’s come from any motivation but to cover the spread on a charts/airplay bet. Put any of these songs on any commercial radio station and there’s every chance a listener will not turn it off before the next ad break.

Ask anyone to tell you who they have just heard, what emotion it inspired or what it might mean and they may as well have been hearing an ad.

A well done ad, sure, with all the familiar lines in all the right places, but the kind of ad where you could substitute one product (or one clichéd couplet after another in the album’s case) for another and no one would really notice.

As an ad therefore, in this case an ad for a songwriter for hire for the next batch of songs on a TV talent show winner’s album, After Hours, Close To Dawn is a solid presentation. Thirsty Merc’s in-demand writer Rai Thistlethwayte has some competition.

As an album which might inspire passion of any sort though, be it adulation, anger, frustration or admiration? Pass.

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