If you're not from the UK, you may not know of vocalist Murray Hockridge, but you may know Dave Kilminster. He plays guitar for Roger Waters, the Pink Floyd bassist. Information, on the other hand, for Hockridge is slight. He comes from a performance family, both his father and mother were actors, and he's been in the biz for 30 years. With a bit of Googling, you'll discover he was a contestant on The Voice UK in 2012, where he was quickly eliminated in the battle round. Maybe it wasn't the best venue for him.
The two artists met several years ago with Kilminster taking an instant liking to Hockridge's soulful style and creative vocal stylings. They put together Closer to Earth, an acoustic melodic rock album, to showcase both Hockridge's voice and Kilminster's guitar skills by covering some classic rock songs. All the music you hear on this recording comes from acoustic guitar, percussion, or voice, no synths and definitely no autotuning.
In the mix are R.E.M's Losing My Religion, Elton John's Rocket Man, 10cc's I'm Not In Love, Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here, Van Morrison's Brown Eyed Girl, Steely Dan's Any Major Dude Will Tell You, Hall & Oates's Sara Smile, Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time and, for something a bit out of left field, George Michael's Father Figure. If you can recall these songs, you'll find the common theme and understand why Hockridge and Kilminster chose them for this album. Both melody, often in the guitar line, and vocal line are the predominant feature of all the songs. (Well it might be a small stretch for the Steely Dan or Michael song.)
Hockridge and Kilminster, then, simply play with these elements in their revised arrangements and, honestly, it sounds pretty good. Hockridge is quite expressive and passionate in his delivery, although he gets a bit rambling at the end of Brown Eyed Girl. Kilminster is a magician on the acoustic guitar, nor merely following the original melody but often improvising and going rogue.
The song I failed to mention in the above list is the iconic Leonard Cohen song, Hallelujah. While Cohen himself had several versions of the song, never found success with it at it's inception, and many others have covered it with success, it takes some huge stones to do so. It's an emotional, passionate, and spiritual song that doesn't lend itself to too much meddling. But with Hockridge and Kilminster it's in good and kind hands. Hockridge's soulful voice brings out the inherent emotion, Kilminster's gentle guitar, both the somberness and gladness. It's quite good. Much like the latest from Reckless In Vegas, Hockridge and Kilminster's Closer to Earth will take you out of your musical box when interpreting some classic songs. Easily recommended.
With Closer to Earth, Murray Hockridge & Dave Kilminster lend voice and acoustic guitar to the reinterpretation of some classic rock songs with fine results.
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