- 22 Jul 21
Debut solo album from London-based Mayo man.
backinhumanform is the stage name of Mayo native, Joe Clarke, who was previously frontman with Manchester outfit, Adventures Of Salvador. Taking his new moniker from an old James lyric, Clarke cites Tim Booth’s mob as a major influence, along with Mazzy Star, Cocteau Twins and John Cale. While the warm, fuzzy sound possibly echoes Hope Sandoval’s former band, the laid-back folky musicianship has probably more in common with a slightly lo-fi Midlake.
From the quietly arresting ‘Ships’ to the skiffle of ‘Old Man’, Clarke’s voice is sometimes buried a little too deeply in the mix. This is all the more evident when the vocal comes to the fore, as on the slightly more strident ‘On The Road’ or the upbeat and infectious ‘Slippin’ Away’, making us wonder why he’s been hiding behind the guitars. The sometimes murky production doesn’t always showcase Clarke’s talents to the full, which is a shame because the haunting ‘Half-Light’ recalls Beck in his quieter, more countrified moments, while recent single ‘Shadows’ wouldn’t feel out of place in a playlist alongside Fleet Foxes – high praise indeed in this parish.
Bizarrely, ‘Moments’ could almost pass for a Frank & Walters b-side, with Clarke’s vocal remarkably similar to that of Paul Linehan. The slow martial drum tattoo of ‘Hundreds’ is slightly at odds with the multi-layered drone vocal, like early Bon Iver meets (again) Beck, complete with slide guitar.
The album ends on a distinct high, though, with ‘Auld Lang Xiety’, which is more than simply a super title. This is the most streamed of Clarke’s songs and it’s not hard to fathom why, as its combination of honest vocal, insistent drums and classic ‘90s indie guitar works to great effect.
Listen to the album below.