Justin Beynon – In Motion (album review)

Aberdare feels like a bit of a hotbed for music of late, I don’t why this has come as a surprise to me, I know very little about the place, but judging by the content that has come out of the town and the hype on social media, a feelgood factor is palpable.

The latest artist to catch my ear from the town is former Broken Vinyl Club (of Acid Jazz Records) guitarist/vocalist Justin Beynon, who has recently released his debut solo album “In Motion”, an album which the creating of – in his own words – came to his rescue.

Since the pandemic took over pretty much everything, it is easy to forget that life and the challenges that come with it were even a thing before COVID-19, and the formation of this album came at a time when Beynon needed it most. The result of his labours, mixed and mastered by The Keys Matthew Evans, is a deeply personal and eclectic collection of songs.

Kicking off the album is “All Inside”, which sets the tone perfectly for the subsequent 40 minutes. Although more laid back and mellow than Beynon’s former band, there is a noticeable sense of urgency, which kicks in with a sublime guitar solo, showing his more than adequate skills on the 6-string.

Track two “The Walkover Rule” further displays Beynon’s guitar skills; funkier and more upbeat than the majority of the album it would fit well on “Wonderland” by The Charlatans. Perhaps not the most obvious musical influence of Beynon, but this can definitely be taken as a compliment.

The haunting poignancy of “Who Delivers” is followed by “Another Universe”, one of the many highlights on the album. Pensive and dreamy it channels The Beatles and expresses Beynon’s love of harmonies.

Spacey and expansive, “Sticks And Stones” takes the listener deeper into a Spiritualized-like dream, before Beynon puts down his guitar and replacing it with piano and strings for “All the Way Through”. Although without his primary instrument it feels completely natural and provides a welcome change-up, as well as marking the end of what is essentially the first part of the album.

Whereas the first six songs Beynon produced himself, the last four were overseen by former bandmate Meirion Townsend and it is in these songs Beynon’s love of Americana and in particular Tom Petty is apparent. The melodies of “Cheap Coat and Broken Wings” and “One Long Kiss Goodbye” are simply gorgeous; cool and breezy, you can almost feel summer breathing down your neck.

Beynon has had plenty of time to think and lots of life lived in the 10 years since The Broken Vinyl Club’s self-titled album and if that was the party then this solo debut is the perfect morning after counterpart. Introspective, melancholy and self-aware the highs are as high as the lows are low, but there is always joy to be found across this album whatever the mood.

 “In Motion” is a fine piece of work and the more you listen to it, the more it becomes a part of you. After a period of uncertainty, coinciding with a temporary loss of love of playing and creating music, it is great to see Beynon back doing something that means so much to him with so much heart, passion and most of all, craftsmanship. A true hidden gem of an album.

“In Motion” is out now. Although the initial run of CDs sold out there are more available. Please contact the artist if you would like to purchase one. It is also available to listen via digital streaming. Get it here on Spotify. Immerse yourself!

Gavin Facey – 27/02/2021

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