single review ~ the vals ~ "quiet part of town"

The world of rock and roll has not an easy one for singer/songwriter Paul Doherty. After years in the rock and pop wilderness, he finally set into motion what would become The Vals in late 2004, the first official line-up arriving the following year. Years of gigging and writing followed, as The Vals began to catch the eye of various musical big-wigs, even playing a live session for BBC Radio 1 in 2008. Their own brand of 60's inspired pop hooks and focus on melody gained them an almost cult status in the capital city and as the floodgate of media spotlight opened, as too did the interest from watching record companies. Eventually, The Vals (despite several line-up changes) signed to Electrique Mud records, releasing debut album 'Sticks and Stones' soon after a successful recording stint in Germany. As airplay continued to flow seamlessly for the Belfast boys and festival appearances alongside the likes of Ocean Colour Scene continued to add to their impressive CV, one thing remained a struggle for Doherty and his growing back catalog of  songs. The Vals couldn't seem to nail down a solid line-up. Bassists, drummers and keyboardists came and went, yet somehow he managed to keep what remained of his band on the road for as long as possible. Their last major project, a collaboration with Wings guitarist Henry McCullough on upbeat single 'Look To The One', acted as a reminder to the power and depth of Doherty's songwriting, as well as the potential a band like The Vals still maintained several years after their first gigs in the back bars of Belfast. Now, armed with yet another newly established line-up, new material and a brand new tour to promote it, The Vals 'mark two' are ready to take on the world once more, with front man and chief song writer Paul Doherty still at the centre of it all. Some things never change...

Bursting into life in the grand manner of American folk-cult hero's Neutral Milk Hotel, 'Quiet Part Of Town' has all the hall marks of a Vals classic on a bigger scale. The first track from their upcoming album 'Wildflower Way', (due for release September 2014) is a worthy opener, the fast paced, major key acoustic guitar still forming the key element of the track, with a psychedelic Beatles-esque production adding a captivating swoon to the Richard Ashcroft inspired melody. Everything from the subtle orchestral overlays, to the George Harrison styled guitar riffs scream Summer festival freedom and carefree abandon. You get the feeling that this is a real Summer record and as such, seems to mark a real turning point for the band. It's still classic Vals, yet there's a recklessness and shimmering quality that suggests a band free from the pressures of a major label release and instead, simply enjoying making music. Be that down to the newest line-up or not, it's hard to say, but the results are as enjoyable as the group have produced in years. The fast paced drumming give the track it's energy, while front man Paul Doherty's swooning vocals add a dream-like element, that you imagine would be elevated further through the gentle crackle of a freshly pressed vinyl. For some, this reviewer included, this is The Vals strong point. They are a band living in the wrong decade. Their gentle croon and classic melodic craft, seems destined for the 60's. For others, this may be their downfall, a band with soul in their hearts, destined to be overlooked by the mainstream for the resurrection of a golden age largely ignored by new generations of teenagers. Whichever way you look at it, it's unlikely The Vals will care. As long as they continue to produce songs of this quality, there will always be a willing audience at the ready. The mainstream is unlikely to give Paul Doherty sleepless nights anytime soon.

Taylor Johnson.

If you like ~ Beady Eye | The Verve | James ~ You'll love The Vals.

Keep up to date with all official Vals news on the links below...

Vals Official Website

& Listen to the new single here...

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