• austinyorksliz

Gaz Brookfield - Idiomatic. New album review

Updated: Nov 27, 2021

Gaz Brookfield started to get noticed on the music scene in 2010 and he seems to have toured endlessly ever since, either as a solo musician or with his band “The Company of Thieves”. He has also joined forces with musician friends B-Sydes and Jake Martin and the three of them now often tour together and are fondly known as “The Unholy Trilogy”.

I first saw Gaz around 2011 when he supported Mark Chadwick of Levellers at a gig on the outskirts of Halifax. I heard “Diabetes blues”, which is about not being able to drink cider as he’s diabetic and it struck a chord with me. Since then I’ve continued to follow his music and seen him play live several times.

Since the start of lockdown in March 2020, Gaz did a weekly Friday livestream on Facebook. Live from his home, he hardly missed a week until he returned to actual gigs in October 2021. His previous album, “Lockdown” was written, recorded and released in the lockdown of 2020. For me, the whole album was full of anger and very downbeat. As a touring musician who had his livelihood stripped from him, I can fully understand that it reflected what he was going through at the time. I generally prefer to listen to things that make me smile and so I struggled to play it. I was intrigued to know how he would follow this as I know Gaz cannot be pigeon holed as his music style and sound is varied and he continues to evolve.

Idiomatic is the 8th studio album from Bristol based singer/songwriter/musician Gaz Brookfield. It was recorded at his home during the spring of 2021 and was released on 1 November 2021.He released one track “The Art Of Falling” a few weeks earlier. Until I received my purchased CD, that was the only track I had heard. I wrote the following review as I played the whole CD from start to finish for the first time.

The album starts with a bang with the opening track “Pantomime”. It’s a fast paced, lively number and a move back to the Gaz I love. There are echoes of the song “I.O.U.” from Gaz’s 6th studio album, “Lost Folk”. Musically it sounds like it came out of the early 90’s indie/pop/rock scene.

“Battle Cry”, is another punchy, rocky number which contains more reflective moments in both music and lyrics. Not too different to the first track it contains Gaz’s trademark ‘woahs’ that tend to become live crowd favourites. Only time will tell with this one.

Next is the title track “Idiomatic”, which is another upbeat track. For me this track has more of a ‘pop’ feel to it. The drums feature heavily in this track rather than the usual guitar sound from Gaz. Don’t get too complacent though as the song moves from pop to guitar riffs and back to pop again.

The King Of Unprepared” has a taste of what I know is still to come on the album with an 80’s sounding synth drum beat, which I like. Another upbeat number but it’s definitely different to the first three tracks, which are good but very similar in sound. I think this could be my favourite track, but who knows?

We go back to the downbeat sound of Gaz’s previous “Lockdown” album for “Tomorrow’s Problem”. A very slow number which is heartfelt but it’s not really my thing. I can’t get past that musically it reminds me of a funeral march.

90’s punk springs to mind with “Monochrome”. It has speed and a touch of aggression. Definitely a song to be played loud and a go to song should you be having a bad day and need to get built up tension out of your system.

The Art Of Falling” is very different to anything Gaz has done before. He wrote this when he fell off his motorbike and broke his leg. Struggling to pick up the guitar, Gaz says, he decided to try something new and have a go using keyboards. This is definitely right out of 80’s electronica and has echoes of Eurythmics and Human League. I love this track and hope he continues to explore this sound in the future.

Musically, the opening bass to “The Polisher Stone”, reminds me of ‘Vienna’ by Ultravox. It’s a slow thoughtful song and definitely has folk/celtic vibes. There is an acoustic bit in the middle and I can’t help feel that it is missing a flute or penny whistle to add a little more something to it. I like it, but it’s a solemn sounding track.

It Will Do For Now” takes me back to the 60’s or early 70’s for the opening bars. The song changes and I can hear a touch of country music in the bass and vocal sound. It’s a steady paced number and very easy to listen to.

The final track “Living The Dream” is another slow number and the acoustic guitar takes centre stage. It’s not my cup of tea, but I’m sure others will love it. For me it feels like a strange song to end on.

Overall the album has diversity, although the first three tracks have a similar feel for me. It’s more to my taste than the “Lockdown” album but I’m not sure it’s his best. It’s a good one and it will grow on me with further plays. I’m glad Gaz tried to experiment and took the focus to other instruments and I hope he continues to explore that. I can’t wait to hear how these sound played live.

It is available to buy now on bandcamp as a digital download or in CD and “glow in the dark” vinyl formats that also come with a free download. I hope you all give it a listen and enjoy it. With such an array of music genres on the album, there is something for everyone.

8 out of 10.

Review by Liz Austin.

Website - gazbrookfield.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/gazbrookfieldmusic

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