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The House Of Love: A State Of Grace – album review / interview with Guy Chadwick

The House Of Love: A State Of Grace Cherry Red Records Vinyl | CD available here The House Of Love return with their first album since She Paints Words In Red from 2013. Wayne AF Carey reviews and gets to interview the main man Guy Chadwick… After releasing an amazing box set from the Fontana […]

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The House Of Love: A State Of GraceHouse Of Love

Cherry Red Records

Vinyl | CD available here

The House Of Love: A State Of Grace – album review / interview with Guy Chadwick

The House Of Love return with their first album since She Paints Words In Red from 2013. Wayne AF Carey reviews and gets to interview the main man Guy Chadwick…

After releasing an amazing box set from the Fontana years back in July (reviewed here) The House Of Love are back with some masterful songs that hark back to the wonder years when the group were in their prime. More of that later. Meanwhile I chat to Guy Chadwick in his home town of Hastings about the album and life in general…

LTW: Hows life been treating you Guy?

Guy Chadwick: Can’t complain, can’t complain. The weather’s nice still and I’m down on the coast, so it’s good.

LTW: I’m impressed with the box set Burn Down The World. It’s a well put together collection. What were the ideas behind it?

GC: We were approached by the record company, they said “can we do it” and we said yes. It was their idea. They did all the research and went to a lot of trouble. They got in touch with a few people who had some serious archives, serious fans who have collected everything and know everything and they were involved as well. It was quite a big project. I didn’t really get involved, I was just doing the yes and no thing throughout.

LTW: One of our readers asked me whether the albums were remastered or not after reading my review?

GC: Why would they be remastered? We didn’t need to remaster them. We’re not Steely Dan.

LTW: The new album is a big shift away from the earlier stuff. Loads of harmonica and a real blues country feel. Tell me about making it.

GC: That’s a good question. It was a record made over a period of two years. A lot of time went into it. I used my own studio and Keith Osborne who I produced the album with, he’s got his own studio. I parted company with Pete, Terry and Matt the bass player. I actually didn’t want to do another album with Pete and Matt. I just felt there wasn’t enough energy, not enough ‘oomph’ in their playing and I said to Terry I don’t want to do an album with them but I want you involved, and he declined because he was loyal to the other two. I was ok with that as I’d already been playing with a line up of local guys who I’d seen in various bands. I wanted to go to America and the other guys didn’t want to so I thought I’m going to America. I’ll get some other guys to do it and they were really good, especially the bass player and the drummer and I thought, if I’m gonna make another record, these guys are there. More energy, more creative. It’s a little bit of a departure. I don’t know if you listened to the last two albums we did. I just thought, these aren’t good enough, there isn’t enough energy, they don’t cut it. I think there are a couple of tracks on the new album which are vintage House Of Love, you know, tracks like Hey Babe, Melody Rose. I would never have been able to do a track like Melody Rose with the other guys. They couldn’t have got that out of them, and that’s the problem I had. To cut a long story short, the reason there’s quite a few new instruments in there was I wanted to stretch it a bit, add things where I thought it could be added. A bit of violin, pedal steel which I love and a great slide player who cam in on Clouds. It just sort of evolved.

LTW: You seems to have gone a bit bluesy and I love the added harmonica which you’ve not really used on previous albums.

GC: Yeah, I made the album like I make other HOL records. I always do most of the guitar playing myself, I always arrange my own songs. I get what I can out of other people and whatever I get is a bonus.

LTW: How do you take it back to a group and direct it all?

GC: I’m very specific with details. I record the demos and all the key elements, the riffs are there and I either get other people to play them or I play them. All my work when I’m cleaning songs goes into bass and drums, get the feel right, go home and get the backing track down.

LTW: You’ve had a few up and downs over the years with Terry Bickers. Are you still friends with him?

GC: Absolutely. He knows that any time he wants to come back and rejoin he’s welcome. He just didn’t like the way I wanted to make a record without the other two and I completely respect that. There’s no problem between me and Terry.

LTW: You obviously still enjoy playing live. Tell us about the tour dates.

GC: We actually start the tour on Monday 12th September, just small clubs. The dates are all out there.

LTW: What keeps you writing and carrying on with it all?

GC: Well, I’m just enjoying my music. The last time we toured was 2018 for our 30th anniversary of our first album. I didn’t enjoy it to be honest, it didn’t feel fresh and it felt like everyone was going through the motions. I was arguing with Terry a lot about guitar sounds and stuff. Nothing major, we weren’t gonna kill each other or anything. I was nagging him a bit, can’t you sound better than that and stuff. I just felt it was lumpy. It was successful. People came. I just thought I don’t want to make another record with these guys. I didn’t know at that time I was gonna get another line up and do an American tour. That inspired me to do another record that I wanna make on my own terms and I don’t have to be compromised.

LTW: Do you think the new line up put a fresh injection into your sound?

GC: It’s really good. You can’t replace Terry Bickers, he brilliant, I love him. He a beautiful player, yet I’ve got someone who’s truly bloody good as well who loves Terry’s playing. He really wants to emulate the records and he does a really really good job. The drummer Hugo is brilliant. He’s played with some pretty serious people, Robbie Williams, Steve Hackett, Rod Stewart. He’s a proper drummer and very exciting to play with.

Album review:

As you’ve heard in my interview, Guy was not that happy with the last two albums and he’s wiped the slate clean with this great comeback after nine years. Opening track Sweet Loser is a slow burning classic that harks right back to the early days. Full of texture with some great harmonica from Jem Turpin. A mellow start full of chord changes and time swings. Light Of The Morning is stuffed full of sound. A country blues number that goes into Spiritualized territory which is no bad move in my book. A great chorus with some lovely backing vocals from Josie Hope. Melody Rose is one of the highlights here. A lovely riff that harks back to the nineties grunge licks that lift up the whole structure. Dark yet beautiful stuff. A lovely bit of great stop start two minutes in and a mighty headrush of a song.

Clouds is another highlight with it’s mighty John Bonham drum lick kicking in with the familiar vocals of Chadwick soaring across the whole tune. This is pure vintage HOL which is the point he makes on reinventing that classic sound for the old fans. A glammed up romp rocker filled with gospel tinged backing vocals. Into The Laughter is a close sister to the old classic Blind. A piece of mellow beauty that hits the heartstrings. Hey Babe swerves into country territory with it’s slow burning moves and smooth as silk echoing guitars that soothe the mind with that Bicker-esque sound. Sweet Water has an infectious riff and all the hallmarks of an earworm. Chadwick is on fine form with this one and sounds like he’s actually enjoying himself again. Another ramped up rock affair with a sweet sweet chorus and some nice chugging riffs.

Queen Of Song is another blues country rambler that resonates. The more I listen to this track I reckon if Guy got together with Jason Pierce they could make a great masterpiece of an album, or have a major control bust up. The similarities are all there, great songwriting, the vision, it’s all there bottled up ready to pounce. In My Mind is another classic HOL tune tinged with this country sound that Chadwick has injected into his soundscapes. “A friend of mine thinks I’m funny when I drink wine” A tune about getting pissed maybe, or a twisted love song? You decide. A State Of Grace goes right back in time to the ‘Butterfly’ album with that joyous riff and the pounding drums and bass us old fans know and love. A statement of grace I say.

Dice Are Rolling is an upbeat number with some lovely echoing vocals and rolling sound that keeps up the momentum with some tight drumming from Hugo Degenhart matched by the commanding bass from Harry Osborne. Closing track Just One More Song just chills out the ears. A slow burning blues gospel number that slides along with the subtle harmonica sounds that enhances the whole trip and makes me think of Spiritualized live doing their great encores.

A great return from Guy Chadwick who has been revitalised by a bunch of young players who seriously know their stuff. Catch them live if you can!



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