November 18, 2018

Spottiswoode & His Enemies: Lost In The City

photo: Brian Geltner

How about a musical guide on how to cope in New York City? The Big Apple inspired lots of artists to do so, but the city is harsh mistress and many failed to pull it off. Spottiswoode & His Enemies however pass with flying colours with their new album Lost In The City, an amalgam of vaudeville, blues, rock and jazz plus lead singer's Jonathan Spottiswoode witty way with words. He is a sardonic poet, whose English heritage makes him a perennial outsider in the city that never sleeps.

Like Randy Newman and Ray Davies he is sharp observer, who can cram the contents of a short story within the confines of a song. The little people can become heroes of sorts (Goodbye Jim McBride, Batman & Robin). Autobiographical songs are used as reality checks. Hoboken is just Hoboken, not some mythical and better place on the other side of the Hudson River. And he takes the full blame for relationship going on the rocks in It's On Me and Now Didn't I? Loneliness and getting drink are captured in The Walk Of Shame: "It's 6 o'clock // The night was so delicious // But now a puddle is a mirror for Narcissus".

Spottiswoode & His Enemies will celebrate their 21st anniversary as a band on December 1st, but the septet have been adults for as long as they care to remember. Maybe that it what gives their music a longing for days gone by. Joy and sadness play catch in a never ending tug of war in carefully orchestrated pieces. Brass, reeds, piano and strings team up to supply Lost In The City with a timeless glow. With its predecessor English Dream the band have now covered both sides of residential schizophrenia. This Anglo-American coalition is as strong as ever, a best-of-both worlds unit building a discography of multi-layered, intellectual music that is joy to listen to.

Spottiswoode & His Enemies:
Spottiswoode: lead vocals, electric & classical guitar, harmonica
John Young: double bass & electric bass
Tim Vaill: drums
Candace DeBartolo: tenor saxophone, backing vocals, guiro
Kevin Cordt: trumpet, backing vocals
Riley McMahon: guitars, percussion, backing vocals
Tony Lauria: Piano, Hammond C3, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, backing vocals
Special guests:
Alexis England & Martha Redbone: backing vocals (1, 3, 6, 9, 12, 14)
Antoine Silverman: first violin (1, 4, 14, 18)
Entcho Todorov: second violin (1, 4, 14, 18)
Chris Cardona: vola (1, 4, 14, 18)
Mariko Wyrick: cello (1, 4, 14, 18)
Sara Jacovino: grombone (2, 3, 5, 13)
Wayne Batchelor: double bass (2)

Lost In The City is due for release on November 27. Available for pre-order from their website.

  1. Hoboken
  2. Lost In The City
  3. Love Saxophone
  4. The Walk Of Shame
  5. Because I Made You
  6. Goodbye Jim McBride
  7. It's On Me
  8. Batman & Robin
  9. Now Didn't I?
  10. Tears Of Joy
  11. Dirty Spoon
  12. Still Small Voice Inside
  13. Cry Baby
  14. Sunset
  15. Going Home For Christmas
  16. East Village Melody
  17. You'll See
  18. I Don't Regret

Live dates:
  • 11/30 Joe's Pub, NYC, NY
    (Lost In The City Release show)
  • 12/01 The deej, Washington, DC
    (Lost In The City Release/The Band's 21st Birthday Party)
  • 12/14 Green Note Basement Bar, Camden, London (Spottiswoode with Walter Salas-Humara)

» Spottiswoode & His Enemies on Facebook

HCTF review of English Dream.

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