For an album that is basically twenty years in the making, you’d be forgiven for expecting there to be a lot riding on it.
After many abandoned efforts and other projects, including writing with Mark E Smith for The Fall, and an interesting Smith & Blaney album, Ed Blaney has finally pulled it off, creating a record that features several members of 90s Salford band Trigger Happy, Mark E Smith and even his daughter Bianca.
At 33 minutes long stretched over 10 songs, the album wastes no time in delivering what it sets out to do, and that is grab your full attention. Urban Nature is a gritty album that reflects the area that Blaney grew up in, Salford, having an overall swagger embedded throughout, yet it was recorded at Cottage On The Hill in Holmfirth.
Opening track ‘High On You’ is a polished and catchy pop-rock number, which immediately pulls you in with its anthemic sound. It truly is the quintessential offering here and you’ll be singing it long after it’s finished. ‘Poison Fishes’ brings Mark E Smith into the fray, resulting in an unforgiving pulsating rocker with a decidedly strong message, asking ‘what have you done to the world?’
Tracks ‘Thinking of You’ and ‘Diamond’ are other memorable highlights, and throughout the album Smith injects some roughness to proceedings, giving the tracks an almost brutal and bleak vibe at times. Out of the ten songs, Smith features on half of those, although the track ‘Coats’ is nothing more than a conversation put over the music.
Blaney takes the back seat on ‘Secrets’, which is a fantastic track, yet it almost feels somewhat like a fish out of water here among the other nine songs, with lead vocals performed by Jenny Shuttleworth. Her voice gives the track a completely different magnitude, making you sit up and take note.
Final track ‘Winner’ closes the album on dreamy note, with Shuttleworth once again lending her beautiful voice to the dark atmosphere that seeps out. The album is quite a varied mix overall, ultimately giving the album a healthy replay value.