When I last wrote about James Simmons it was to commend him for producing an effective EP called ‘How They Grow’, which married together the sounds of Epic45 and Durutti Column. It did, however, lack its own unique voice. Despite being possessed by similar ghosts, it’s pleasing to report the first album by A Dancing Beggar sounds much more complete and cohesive.
The Epic45 comparisons are apparent from the outset as delicate summery guitars and field recordings evoke that same sense of childhood nostalgia but Simmons has clearly drawn on his own memories here. Although its title sets its aim clearly, the gorgeous ‘Sand Beneath Our Toes’ is capable in music alone of conjuring up images of the beaches in South West England and even if the brilliant ’22 Summers’ may forever be teetering on the brink of sadness, its beguiling melody is as hopeful as it is haunting.
The samples are well chosen too: ‘Branches And Nettles’ is one of several songs to put bird song to good use whilst ‘Our Distant Memories, Our Idle Dreams’ allows Cynthia Lawson to recall almost jumping into an empty swimming pool as a child.
Promising though it was, ‘How They Grow’ now seems like a naive piece of work. That’s because, by turns emotive, melodic and evocative, ‘What We Left Behind’ is a major step forward in the career of this young performer and is a rewarding experience for those still hanging on to the last days of youth and dreaming of an endless summer.
A Dancing Beggar MySpace
Epic45, Durutti Column