Every city in the UK has its homegrown musical heroes. And while these bands or artists can certainly help put somewhere on the map, it can also be something of a double-edged sword. Both in the sense that this will undoubtedly spawn legions of poor imitations, but also in the sense that said poor imitations will always lead to lazy, inaccurate comparisons from the press and beyond.
Unfortunately, this is something that will undoubtedly dog Sheffield’s Ed Cosens and the reviews of his debut solo album Fortunes Favour. Perhaps best known as the guitarist/bassist and songwriter in Reverend and the Makers, Cosens has been a lynchpin of Sheffield’s music scene now for years, though surprisingly comparisons will be drawn to the later material of another, somewhat bigger Sheffield band.
Of course, it’s easy to understand where such comparisons would stem from. There’s a sort of woozy, meandering quality at play here, not to mention the South Yorkshire drawl. Rather than writing pseudo psychedelic album about space casinos or whatever, Cosens has succeeded in creating something rich, emotionally nuanced, and perhaps most importantly, grounded in reality.
Though it might seem odd that it’s taken ten years for a solo album to materialise, especially given Cosens’ constant involvement in his city’s scene. All he was waiting for, it seems, was a catalyst. Something he found in the form of “If”.
Three minutes of introspective rumination put to tremelloed guitar, subtle strings and understated drums, ‘If’ is arguable the record’s centrepiece, despite being its second track, and really does feel like the track from which everything else stems.
This is no bad thing.
From the loping eponymous title track, to the effortless melodies of “Lovers Blues”, Cosens has found his niche and stuck to it. Should this have happened earlier in his career, it would be easy to dismiss as a matter of happenstance, and certainly see it as creatively detrimental. Now however, it feels considered; a move from a musician who has spent years testing various waters before finding the perfect temperature.
Of course, detractors may well level their criticism at just how similar the tracks can feel, especially on repeat listens. For the most part however Fortunes Favour is solid, and while perhaps not musically as brave as its name suggests, it’s certainly an album well worth spending some time with, especially on the strength of tracks such as “If” or “The Pantomime”.
Also on RGM, Check out our Interview with Ed for the RGM Podcast ????