Review from FabricationsHQ
British singer-songwriter Robert Lane is doing all right for himself, thank you very much (extensive support and headline touring in the UK; at last count five tours of Germany; tours of Scandinavia and Holland on the 2018 radar).
But when you listen to, and appreciate, the quality of Lane’s third offering Only a Flight Away (which follows on from his self-titled debut and extended EP Ends and Starts) you wonder how and why he’s not a bigger proposition in the great musical scheme of things and a staple of mainstream radio airplay.
The breadth of Lane’s songwriting skills are captured concisely and delightfully across the opening four tracks.
The short instrumental 'The Hundred House' has a distinctly 70s melodic vibe, as do many of the songs, including second number 'Man of the Moment.'
A rockier proposition with a punchy chorus, 'Man of the Moment' lyrically points to any (but with one very obvious Presidential target) where the seat of power is more important than what they do with that power:
"To sit in judgement on a gilded throne, what chance I wonder you’ll ever atone… if the pledge you made has come to nothing, it was always clear that you were bluffing."
The following two numbers, 'Baby Knows' and 'Right By My Side,' fall in to the category of classic singer-songwriter material but with very different stylings – the former is an effective and ear catching acoustic number backed by little more than hand-claps and a harmony chorus vocals while the charm of the latter is in its fuller, string-effected arrangement.
That Robert Lane should be seen and heard as a serious singer-songwriter force is reinforced as the album progresses – the slower and plaintive 'Far Too Busy' (a plea for those ignored by society) is a change of pace that sits comfortably alongside the acoustic guitar and Crosby Stills & Nash influenced harmonies that follow on 'The Instigator.'
The melodically framed 'Take as Long as You Need,' 'Hoping For anything (But You)' (a rhythmic, rocky and highly contemporary twist on the 'if I ever see you again it will be too soon' farewell) and the song that inspired the album's title, 'Bill Frost’s Flying Machine' (a spacious, primarily acoustic number that’s preceded by a reprisal of 'The Hundred House') more than make their mark before the album closes out with 'Who Do You Think You’re Talking For,' an acoustic singer-songwriter protest number that acts as the lyrical partner to 'Man of the Moment.'
Yes, Robert Lane is definitely doing all right for himself, but then if you’re selected to attend a song writing retreat course with Ray Davies, one of Britain’s most successful and renowned pop songwriters, to learn from and work out any compositional Kinks (sorry) – and then Davies himself waxes lyrical about you, you have little to worry about in terms of your craft.
Only a Flight Away confirms just that, and in seriously impressive style.