Talk about a release taking you back. This one takes me back to pokey, smoky, back rooms of pubs, in my late teens, watching the fretwork of some outstanding guitarists. Born and raised in Lincoln, attending pub gigs in the early 90s before escaping to university in 94, there were a lot of blues acts at the time, and while I may have been an emerging goth, I appreciated solid blues work – and still do, particularly the showmanship of Peter Lee Farina and a host of acts that I caught live around that time. I have my parents to thank for the introduction, being well into the scene, and Eddie Tatton, who’s featured in the majority of prominent blues-orientated acts in the city, from The Bamboo Beat Band to Out of the Blue, has remained a favourite – a performer who they’d always gush about by text or whenever I visited. It’s fair to say he’s been around a while, and has enjoyed a career as a session musician as well as a performer.
There’s nothing about ‘Canons Under Flowers’ that suggests local or amateurish: it’s well-recorded and neatly mastered.
There are some unusually long songs on ‘Canons Under Flowers’, starting with the eight-and-a-half minute opener ‘Small Voice’. It’s mostly slow-burning and melodic, and the picked guitar gives way to a full-blown rock tune for the chorus.
Despite Tatton’s history, you wouldn’t call ‘Canons Under Flowers’ a blues album, and the fact is, it doesn’t really conform to any one genre. There are elements of progressive and what you might broadly consider 80s AOR which are prominent in the expansive compositions, at times coming on like 80s Fleetwood Mac (as exemplified by ‘Rise’ and ‘Tempest’) and elsewhere, ‘Namaste’ has a folksy spin that avoids tripping into hippie territory, while the title track is perhaps more post-rock, with some brooding strings and chunky riffery, as well as epic solo work on a Pink Floyd scale, and there’s a lot to soak in: Tatton proves to be far from predictable.
There’s some slick keyboard work and smooth drumming backing up the very tidy guitar work, which keeps the solos in check in the main – although the interlude piece, ‘Hope’ is a pure platform for showcasing some fancy fretwork, and the use of a whole chorus of female backing vocals on many of the songs accentuates the maximalist approach to this album.
It does feel quite out of step with a lot of current values, particularly the trend toward lo-fi, DIY recordings that have become prevalent since the advent of the pandemic, but ‘Canons Under Flowers’ is likely to appeal very much to a certain demographic, and the ‘classic rock’ audience – which is a large one, and one Tatton deserves to reach. The songs are well crafted, and magnificently played, and you can’t fault that.