Review Summary: Put the graft in and better times are inevitable. Easy.
There is nowhere like Britain. The general sense of inevitability that the best days might be behind this great country. The humour, the people, the warmth. Various bands and artists have captured this feeling over the years, from Pink Floyd, who nonchalantly sung of quiet desperation being the English way back in the 70's, to more modern artists such as the Arctic Monkeys informing us that while the British Isles may be full of boys in bands, many of them, after a couple of cans, feel like it's ok to act like a dickhead.
Continuing this trend is Scottish singer-songwriter Gerry Cinnamon. Hailing from Glasgow, the country's largest city, he manages to convey the working-class feelings of strife and optimism through his powerful Glaswegian brogue. Many of the album's brutally honest lyrics deal with the monotony and hopelessness of everyday life, and the attempt to raise yourself above it by being yourself and ignoring what the herd may say. Opener 'Canter' begins with a gorgeous guitar line and a heartfelt cry of 'This is the beginning of your life - you better start moving like you're running out of time'. Yet, just when you think the song may slip into melodrama, Gerry hits you with a warning:
'You know it could be a Canter, if you were just a wee bit less of a wanker'
The party brakes are quickly put on hold though as the introspective 'War Song Soldier' follows. Written about a guarded “dark time in his life” this harmonica blues driven number catches the crooner at his bleakest and most powerful as he cries: “I can start me a war / Be a war song soldier / I can stand on my head / I can walk on water“.
Much of the album continues on a similar trend, with nods to Bob Dylan and Neil Young. While the album is packed with anthems such as 'Sun Queen' and 'Where We're Going', Cinnamon is clearly capable of conjuring up sobering songs, such as the gut-wrenching break up song 'Roll the Credits', a tragic love song that offers little hope, with lines such as 'To think that our bodies ain't broken, our hearts might survive' seeing tragically relevant for the times we're living in.
Thankfully, the wonderful 'Where We're Going' reminds us of better times. A fist punching anthem for the ages (one can only imagine it being played in a packed tent at Glastonbury), it's easily the best song on the album, and will have been on many lockdown playlists this spring. The word 'Bonny' is northern English/Scottish slang for beautiful or attractive, and while many of the songs here are laced with grit and realism, the term widely sums up 'Where We're Going'. Its a song of joy and optimism, something we could all do with at the moment.
While the last couple of songs are forgettable and almost feel tagged on, overall this is a great listen. Unpretentious and honest, Cinnamon is well on his way to becoming another beloved British artist. His warmth and humour really shine here, and I'm excited to see what he comes up with next. While we all may be staying inside and keeping safe, put this on and forget about what's going on outside and focus on ourselves. As GC himself says, 'Put the graft in and better times are inevitable. Easy.'