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Songs from the Gasstation
The singer-songwriter backlash may be painfully overdue, but hold off a while – long enough at least, to give the affable Stewart Agnew a go
Tanya Sweeney, 04 May 2004
The singer-songwriter backlash may be painfully overdue, but hold off a while – long enough at least, to give the affable Stewart Agnew a go. Agnew may be working off the same palette as his overexposed peers, but he seems to have different stories to tell and surprisingly endearing ways to tell them.
The songs are lovingly crafted and exude a simplicity and frankness that is complemented by the stripped-down production. Agnew’s voice is brisk with character, sounding slightly gin-blossomed, yet to the point. On ‘Sink Or Swim’, his untarnished falsetto is like that of a drunken angel, whereas on ‘It’s No Surprise’, he is sentimental yet controlled. Having cajoled the well-regarded Ron Sexsmith into appearing on the album, the fruits of this collaboration, ‘Gypsy Girl’ and ‘I Give You Hope’, are truly beguiling.
After years of unplugged overload, you would be forgiven for thinking that you had heard every possible permutation of heartfelt acoustic arrangement by now. Agnew gently fans the flames of the acoustic maverick set, and, as the rest of the listening world seems to be sitting up and taking notice of our little island of noise and quiet, his timing may just be perfect.