Three Tales, Robyn G. Shiels
When you look through the huge windows in the Black Box Cafe, the street lights in the alley way make it seem as if it's constantly just about to get dark. It suits Robyn G Sheils, of course. For a man with a seemingly cheery persona (he happily takes on heckles from a former band mate) and the occasional dinky melody that could happily live somewhere in a pop song, he sure does sing a lot about death. This new stuff is pretty blatant - the lyrics are exposed, with nowhere to hide among sparse, simple arrangements. 'Open Road' opens a short set of mostly new tracks, each of them fragile and endearing. Robyn isn't going to snap out of it anytime soon, thankfully.
After this, Three Tales could be the London Philharmonic. Introducing Panda Kopanda's Gavin Reid on guitar/melodica and armed with a further two musicians, singer Ben McAuley is in his element. The songs grow before us - 'Variation' becomes really, really noisy, in its own way.
'A Line of Trees' and the wonderful, whaling 'Garron Point' perfectly showcase Ben's extremely endearing approach to song writing. 'A Cast of Hawks' almost makes you want to join in, sing those 'Ba Bas' and find reassurance. The comparisons to Will Oldam and the usual alt country heroes are inevitable, but there's something beautifully uplifting about all of these songs. We leave content, upbeat and happy to wander through the perpetual twilight outside.