Closing Credits - Hungry Bentley These are the worst of times. The Credit Crunch corrosion is taking hold, rotting us to the core. The X-Factor facsimiles dominate the prime-time pervading the myth that British music culture depends on a production line; the true manufacturing base of the country. War is being fought on two fronts, asymmetrically disrupting our lives with attacks on our basic rights. Inconstancy is indeed the essence of our time, but as somebody once said, the worst of times, like the best are always passing away. As the wheel turns again and delivers a renaissance across the Atlantic, it is good to know that some things remain constant. Closing Credits, the second album from North West England's Hungry Bentley is a crystal reminder of the importance of sticking to the basic rules of musicality. The ability to skilfully arrange a song, deftly blending the instruments so that the whole is so much greater than the sum of the parts. Subtle, beautiful vocal harmonisation; but you have to listen carefully, you have to put some effort in. Probably too much effort for the song factory customers who demand immediate satisfaction; for their entertainment to be spooned into their ears like children. I expect that John Clayton (Hungry Bentley's eclectic creative force) doesn't hold this demographic in much regard. Opening track 'A handful of diamonds' crashes in with drums seemingly echoing the distant gunfire from the euphemistic war on terror and immediately makes you sit up and pay attention... 'Hey you, I'll give you a handful of diamonds from the rough...'. A single phrase from a harmonica hints at the vein of Americana that runs through the album. Yet it is the unrepentant piano driving the rythmn that really stands out on this and other tracks. A statement of intent that the piano has joined the rythmn section and ain't leaving any time soon. 'Fortune smiled on you and you returned it's gaze' sings John optimistically and with an opening track like this, a sentiment that will surely become self-referential. That vein of Americana beats strongest on second track 'The Last Rose of Summer', a cracking banjo arpeggio and a Hammond Organ set us on the porch of the ranch house for what is essentially a perfect pop song, albeit one that has spent it's formative years eating bean chilli and wearing a Stetson. 'Clean and Counterfeit' cuts through the sense of optimism briefly with a foreboding guitar entrance creeping down a dark alley; 'I was the cheapest dress you wore' sings John cryptically before leading us deeper into an post modern mystery. 'Tourism' evokes thoughts of a love letter penned in a Café on a Paris Boulevard. That piano again, here like a delicate breeze, the accompaniment of plaintive strings bringing a maudlin shade to the downbeat story. Track 5 'Just' takes us back over the pond with a driving slide guitar. Again a musically skilful track, there is a slight suggestion here that John may have overcooked his vocal ambition. Had the vocal been taken down a few semitones, this would have been bang on. Straight back on form with track 6, 'Dot Dot Dot' which finds HB in confrontational mood, call and response vocals and piano persisting like Autumn rain. Americana even gives way to a slice of Gershwin for a fleeting jazz tinged moment. A bass heavy rythmn underpins the return of arpeggio banjo on penultimate track 7, 'Expectation River' in what could easily translate as a road movie soundtrack undertaken on the A59 from Blackburn to Clitheroe while day-dreaming of the Deep South. The album finale 'The Book of Invasions' sets the words of poet Nigel McGloughlin to John's musical interpretation. On a collection of songs that attains such a consistent standard this, for me, is the apogee. The sign of a man with a natural ability to engage the listener and, through the music, to take these eloquent, anecdotal words and put us in the place imagined by the poet, to feel the implied cold and history. Majestic. It would be all too easy to throw a dice and randomly order the tracks, but this is a collection of songs that tells a story from start to end, it couldn't be any other way. It might not suit the shuffle generation, but - Hey You - can you not pay attention, just for forty minutes? In times of uncertainty we can take comfort in this music of hope and expectation - uplifting in it's stature and ambition. Close your eyes. Imagine a sweeping camera shot following a solemn leaf down, down to it's resting place on a wet Autumn pavement and play this album in your mind; imagine your own Closing Credits. Mutability is our tragedy, but it is also our hope. A review from Inner Ear, Holland ..Hungry Bentley hails from the UK, but his sound isn't typically British or even British Influence. You can sometimes slightly hear that, but his rootsy and poppy sounds with influences from various directions are much more boundary-less. Handful of Diamonds This album starts with a song called Handful of Diamonds. This song is fun, catchy, and has a poppy feel without being too poppy. At times it reminds me of a Dutch song from like 10 years ago by a band called Abel. It was one of those songs that everyone liked. And Handful of Diamonds has that same quality. It just is a good listen. Last Rose Last Rose has a really rootsy/americana feel to it, and that works really well for the song. The soothing and soulful vocals are filled with emotion and that is what connects you to the song. Musically the song is pretty catchy, and the backing vocals are well-chosen. It's a song that you can move your foot to and that will get stuck in your head after a couple listens. Clean And Counterfeit This song has an interesting alternative folk feel to it. When the keys come in, it accentuates the chilling atmosphere of this song. Lyrically the song is pretty clever as well. But what impressed me most is the interaction between the words and the music. It is perfectly matched. Tourism The album continues with Tourism which is my favorite song on this CD. Lyrically it tells a story, like a story-telling poem, and being a poet myself, I can appreciate that. The music amplifies the words and the story they tell. It's a quality in music that I've always been drawn too, and also because of the vocal harmonies that are featured in the song, it sometimes reminds me of Twarres, which still is one of my all time favorite bands. So if I compare you to them, it is meant as a compliment. Just While the intention of Just is inspiring, the song isn't what it potentially could be. Vocally, this is not Hungry Bentley's best track, and musically it seems like he was trying a little bit too hard. The arrangement in itself is quite brilliant, and perhaps a re-recording at a later time would make me wildly enthusiastic about this song, but for the moment, it does not convince me. Dot Dot Dot Listening to this next song was a pleasure. It's more uptempo, and the vocals and the lyrics interact perfectly once again. Hungry Bentley is right back on track with Dot Dot Dot. He takes you on a journey throughout the song and it's a very pleasant journey. Expectation River The americana influences are back in the commercially most attractive song on this album, Expectation River. It's immensely catchy and sung very well. It has a good ring to it which I believe is right for potentially being a successful radio single. At times it reminds me of Hungry Bentley's fellow countrymen Alphaspin, who have the same capability of crafting a wonderful pop song that people just want to listen to. Book of Invasions Book of Invasions is a musical adaptation of a poem by Nigel McLoughlin. The full sound really creates an atmosphere where the words are central. The words are what this song is about, and with a good reason. The words are magnificent and the picture they paint is excellently portrayed through the music. A very succesful adaptation of the poem. John Clayton, aka Hungry Bentley has presented us with an album that is both highly impressive and musically appealing. With well crafted pop songs and influences ranging from various directions this 8-piece is something that has potential of reaching out to the masses. With the right promotion strategy, Hungry Bentley might well become a household name. ........