Ginger
Market Harbour


4.5
superb

Review

by Dan Smith USER (74 Reviews)
January 26th, 2008 | 14 replies | 8,458 views


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Wildhearts frontman Ginger continues a rather prolific couple of years with a solo effort that's sure to cement his status as one of Great Britain's best songwriters.

3 of 3 thought this review was well written

For a man who once sang that "No one likes a long roller coaster ride," Mr. David Walls, or Ginger to all but his mother, has a led a life with many more ups and downs than most theme parks could boast. The last two decades have seen him twice lead his band The Wildhearts to chart-topping success, only for everything to fall apart around him in a black cloud of addiction, legal wrangles and bad blood. A slew of post-Wildhearts projects saw the light of day, but never the critical acclaim and success they truly deserved, and culminated with Ginger returning to the needle. The last three years however, have seen renewed activity from arguably Britain's finest songwriter; in the aftermath of a messy breakup from his then-fiancee, Ginger overcame his chemical dependency and relocated to the US to produce his first solo album proper, "Valor Del Corazon," and after some involvement in other musical projects he released a follow up, "Yoni," and simultaneously reformed the Wildhearts with a much more stable line-up.

The present day finds our protagonist touring heavily with The Wildhearts, and using the downtime between tours to record solo and side-project material. "Market Harbour" was recorded in mid-2007, and sees him combining the huge variety of influences displayed on "Valor..." with the soft melodic-pop nous of "Yoni," eschewing the tendencies towards over-long and complicated song structures found on both, resulting in an upbeat collection of breezy pop songs, and a refreshing and worthy addition to Ginger's lengthy back-catalogue.

The songs all make up one continuous hour of music (with some songs flowing directly into one another and others connected by short interludes), and the range of instrumentation therein is huge: in addition to the traditional rock band setup of drums, bass, guitars and vocals, the songs are awash with warm layers of piano and hammond organ, vast waves of vocal harmonies, lilting string and brass sections, and subtle keyboard and electronic textures (similar in their style to the ambient effects used by Ginger's one-time bandmate Devin Townsend, although in a much less dense arrangement).

Tracks like "House of Moths" and "Awareness and the Great Integrity" find Ginger in a reflective mood, with lines like "Each step that I take, each day I wake up until death, I'll take comfort and pride" and "In this world in need of distraction, I'm just learning how to be" oozing a thoughtful and palpable sense of optimism (a recurring theme in Ginger's work since getting off drugs). The former is a strangely catchy downtempo number featuring gentle acoustic strumming, bells, and an oddly effective use of a circus-style brass and keyboard combo in the second verse, while the latter displays a more maudlin mood, with an almost gospel-choir feel in the choruses, and a snaking bassline driving the verse. "How Hard Can You Make It?" rides in on a dramatic violin intro, before morphing into a cross between the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Under the Bridge," and one of Feeder's softer, more recent numbers - a strange, but suprisingly pleasant combination.

The influence of Ginger's main band shines through on "The Queen of Leaving," a bouncy pop-rock nugget reminiscent of The Wildhearts' "So Into You," and the vocoder-heavy "Attentionette" features a solid drumbeat and a riff that wouldn't have been out of place on the aforementioned band's "P.H.U.Q." album. "Josser Bank," with it's lo-fi glam-rock stomp, and "Overeasy" with it's huge singalong chorus are similarly reminiscent of Ginger's more pedal-to-the-metal tendencies. The addition of a guest vocalist (the liner notes don't elaborate as to which of the many that are listed is taking the lead) on "Couple Trouble" gives a different slant to the music, with the soulful vocal performance comparable to that of Maroon 5's vocalist. On the following track, "The Perilous Burden of Prodigal Obligation," Ginger similarly takes a back seat in the vocal department, providing sublime harmonies for two other guest vocalists through the windswept verses and the anthemic choruses.

I could go into so much more detail about the songs - I've owned it for a mere couple of days, listened to it nearly twenty times through already, and each listen reveals new layers of instrumention, extra vocal harmonies, a guitar lead that I missed on the previous listen, another particularly clever lyric... you get the picture - but it would take days worth of writing just to scratch the surface, such is the scope of the album. In fact, it's hard to fault "Market Harbour" in any way; even the interlude tracks hold the listener's interest (worth a special mention are the country style hoe-down of "The Ninns of Mourning" (think The Minutemen's "Corona" and you're on the right track), and the monolithic drum thunder of "Eye of the Rotunda"). If any criticism could be levelled here, it would be that Ginger occasionally cuts some tracks short before their time; "Couple Trouble" and "Josser Bank" in particular could be doubled in length without outstaying their welcome. However, this is sheer pickiness on my part, and perhaps it's this brevity with track lengths that has been partly what's inspired me to return for so many repeat listens.

The album is bookended by two of the its finest songs, "Casino Bay" and "Shatterproof," which despite their musical brilliance, are especially effective thanks to a particularly poignant lyric taken from each: Ginger begins the album stating that "It's almost worth the pain when you get to turn it around" and finishes by asking "How can you kill something that will not die?" These two lines are indicative of the resilience, motivation, and unwillingness to let the bastards grind him down, that have kept Ginger alive on the journey that finds him currently in "Market Harbour." Where he goes from here is anyone's guess, but you can be sure the journey is far from over.

RATING -----> 4.5/5



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user ratings (5)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
spoon_of_grimbo
January 26th 2008



2240 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i know it's not technically the release date 'til tmrw but, having emailed SpatOut and Jom the other day (and recieved rather conflicting information as to whether or not to post the review before the release date), i figured i'd strike a happy medium and post this a day early (rather than the three days early i'd planned to post it).

to be fair, i found this at a record shop who'd recieved it early a few days ago, and i know of several people who recieved their pre-orders yesterday, so to some extent, it's commercially and legally available now.
hope the mods are okay with this.

www.myspace.com/silverginger
http://www.gingerandthesoniccircus.net/

n.b. there's apparently a japanese edition of this album being released, with two live bonus tracks, and also the b-side from the casino bay single, entitled "how legends love," which is a cracking good song!This Message Edited On 01.26.08

Jom
Staff Reviewer
January 26th 2008



2634 Comments


I'm cool with it because you have a copy of it. Thanks for showing me (as well as giving me a track as a teaser!). Valor del Corazon has a special place en mi corazon and I can't wait to hear this record.

spoon_of_grimbo
January 26th 2008



2240 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

nice one, thanks man.

i'm pretty sure you'll like this if you like VDC, particularly the shorter of the slower VDC tracks like "this is only a problem," "man who cheated death" etc.

munky_magik
January 28th 2008



46 Comments


Good review for a good album.
Few of the tracks sound a bit Yoni-esque, I think but other than that it's a pretty great collection of music.

Pleasantly surprised it's actually available on release date, as well.

spoon_of_grimbo
January 28th 2008



2240 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

thanks!

yeah, it totally caught me off guard when i bought it - i'd wandered into a record shop, and the guy who works there knew i'm a wildhearts fan and just shouted (as i was about to leave) "oh, by the way mate, that new ginger album's in!" nearly tripped over my own feet rushing back in!

btw, does anyone know the criteria for getting a review featured at the top of the main page? i figured since this was a new release, it might have got on there.

Cantthinkofagoodname
January 29th 2008



4 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Couldn't agree more, excellent album. 'Josser Bank' and 'Couple Trouble' are my current favourites - does the latter remind anyone of 'Vanity Fair' by Mr Bungle?

Oh, and recent reviews of Therapy? and Rocket from the Crypt? A reviewer after my own heart...

spoon_of_grimbo
January 29th 2008



2240 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

funny you should mention "vanity fair," i actually bought California the same day i got Market Harbour, and yeah i can see what you mean, there's definitely a similarity there... seems great minds think alike when it comes to writing music!

damn.... imagine a patton/ginger collaboration.... that'd be amazing!

spoon_of_grimbo
February 4th 2008



2240 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

nice one, thanks to whoever put this at the top of the main page! : )

TheStarclassicTreatment
February 4th 2008



2910 Comments


Go Newcastle! Ginger ftw!

lunchforthesky
February 4th 2008



1039 Comments


Splendid review.



AtavanHalen
February 5th 2008



17927 Comments


I might pick this up.
Good review!

spoon_of_grimbo
February 5th 2008



2240 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

wondered why it had dissappeared so quickly from the main page lol!

i read the news article and it's kinda strange that they've pushed back the "official" release date, when everyone who pre-ordered has got it, and its in numerous HMVs, Virgin megastores, indie shops, and online shops. if they go and release it with extra tracks here in the UK after i went and bought it right away, i'll be pissed!

i briefly considered bringing down the rating a bit, but the more i listen the more i'm inclined to keep it as it is. its the first ginger-related album (wildhearts included) that really flows amazingly as an album rather than a collection of his best songs at the time of recording.

spoon_of_grimbo
February 7th 2008



2240 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

u think so? i always got kinda put off by the way one or two tracks had a random
intro or outro part that wasn't even connected to the song. i mean yeah, it's an
amazing album, but it flows kinda weirdly. it's a shame they never released the
proposed tracklisting for the double-album that P.H.U.Q. was supposed to be (the
other half was "fishing for luckies" cuz the label wouldn't agree to releasing a
double album), because obviously a lot of those segue bits would have made sense
in that context.

there's a good example of that in one of the b-sides (either "hate the world day" or
"fire up," i can't remember which) where the intro to "in lilly's garden" starts to fade
in at the end. you can tell they had this massive vision of an epic double album,
and when the label vetoed it, the songs ended up in a different order, split between
P.H.U.Q. and FFL. as amazing as those two albums are, they don't flow too well
IMO.This Message Edited On 02.07.08

spoon_of_grimbo
February 7th 2008



2240 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

it's weird, i always used to skip baby strange to start with. when i ripped the album to my laptop when i first got it, it showed up that david bowie was the author of baby strange for some reason!!! i just figured "what's the point in covering a 30 second song!?" and skipped it, it never really grabbed me. but i see what you mean though, if you're used to how it goes, it'd be weird not to have it there. i just always felt that P.H.U.Q. paled in comparison to what it could've been as a full double album concept.



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