Not one to rest on his multitude of laurels, Glenn Tilbrook is back, ducking and diving, bobbing and weaving, with his fifth non Squeeze album Happy Ending. Inventive, witty and stuffed with a twinkling trove of brand-new melodies, it proves the man’s musicality and sense of craft are more energised than ever.
The album sprang out of a quiet period in the writing of Squeeze’s forthcoming album, due late 2014. Says Tilbrook, “Momentum’s very important. It went a bit quiet at Chris Difford’s end, so I thought, ‘you know what? I’ll just get on with my own thing and make my own momentum.’”
The result is a revelation. To begin with, it’s acoustic. “What I’ve tried to do is just strip my writing back to guitar or piano and start out from there. One of the next goals I have is to make a sparse record, because I’m very good at putting in detailed information. I just like doing it.”
But the details make this even more delightful. Beside Tilbrook on masterly bass and guitar (plus iPad keys and “atmospherics”), there are full string arrangements by Lucy Shaw, kazoos, sitar, Indian harmonium, ukuleles, bongos and Chinese drums. There’s assistance from Squeeze drummer Simon Hanson, multi-instrumentalist Chris McNally and Nine Below Zero guitar man Dennis Greaves. Tilbrook’s offspring Leon (aged 10), co-wrote track ‘Bongo Bill’ and both he and seven-year-old Wesley assist on vocals.
Tracks include the poignant orchestral story-song Persephone; Rupert, a pean to Mr Murdoch that’s far more appealing than he deserves; the infectiously jaunty Kev and Dave, about two brothers who run a pub; and a tender meditation on Beach Boy Dennis Wilson. Tilbrook is yet again in top form when co-writing with his old friend Chris Braide (currently working with Beyonce and Lana Del Ray) on the acerbic but funny dig at big businesses’ lack of accountability in Everybody Sometimes; and there’s a good old knees-up at the end. Lyrics, in Squeeze Chris Difford’s preserve, are all by Tilbrook.
“I’m really, really vibed up on what I’m doing now,” said Tilbrook recently. “To me, this record takes its place alongside [Tilbrook and The Fluffers’] Pandemonium Ensues and [Squeeze albums] East Side Story, Argybargy and Cool for Cats, which are my favourite records that I have made. So that’s five albums that I’ve thought, ‘Yes! I’ve actually done that properly now’…”
Happy Ending? Not likely. With something this bouyant, brainy and brilliant, Tilbrook’s just getting going.
Glenn Tilbrook’s Happy Ending Tour runs until December 18th 2013. The 33 date ‘Happy Ending’ tour sees Glenn return to his totally stripped down solo acoustic show, the first time he has toured completely solo in the UK in 4 years. CD copies of Happy Ending will be available at shows during the tour prior to its release in January as a vinyl, CD, download card package.
Remaining tour dates:
Thur 05 King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow
Sun 08 53 Degrees, Preston
Tues 10 ARC, Stockton on Tees
Weds 11 Arts Centre, Bingley
Thur 12 The Ropewalk, Barton Upon Humber
Sat 14 Blackheath Halls, Blackheath, London
Mon 16 Komedia, Brighton
Tues 17 South St Arts Centre, Reading
Wed 18 The Brook, Southampton
See www.glenntilbrook.com for details.