For those of us who are a certain age the thought of an album with a concept and a variety of singers brings back horrific memories of concept albums and crimes against humanity such as â€œThe Butterfly Ballâ€�. Thankfully Naked Citizens escapes the potential pitfalls and over the course of a dozen tracks there are a wide variety of styles, performers of diverse ages and numerous subjects which somehow gel together to make a wonderful collection of songs. This is undoubtedly helped by the song writing of Cardiff veterans Dan Nicols and Chris Walker from Railroad Bill, the production of Charlie Francis and a superb house band. What could have been disjointed and incoherent is at times moving, at times amusing and always thoroughly entertaining. If there is a consistent theme it is one of social commentary on the state of the world in 2018.
The list of special guests reads like a whoâ€™s who of the Cardiff music community featuring a plethora of Meltdown veterans alongside some of the more recent newcomers. There are numerous delights including Fred Snowâ€™s â€œWhatever Happened to the Sunâ€� which is an expletive filled playful joy. George Melly would have loved it. Suzi Chunkâ€™s â€œSpace Touringâ€� might come as a surprise with itâ€™s an out and out club grooves. However, itâ€™s a sure fire floor filler with a heart-felt lyric cataloguing the universality of being perpetually â€˜on the roadâ€™ with all the highs and lows it brings. Talking of other dimensions, in a parallel universe Chris Ridgeway would be recognised as one of Walesâ€™ finest song writers and performers. Not known for singing other peopleâ€™s songs he has recorded one of the albumâ€™s highlights with â€œWandering in to the Twilightâ€�, It deals with the early signs of dementia set to a thundering glam rock beat. It is a bitter sweet, deeply moving classic that deserves repeated plays.
What could have gone horribly wrong has turned out beautifully. Naked Citizens shows our music community in action and demonstrates just how good it is.
The album is out 12th October on Country Mile Records and is being launched at the Gate in Cardiff on Saturday 13th October (tickets available a the following ink)