LOW STOCK LEVEL
Mother Town Hall
"A welcome return for a long-lost treasure." This was how Q magazine greeted the 2014 release of Bill Pritchard's album A Trip to the Coast (TR 280CD/LP). At the year's end, the album was included in the "50 besten Alben 2014" list in Rolling Stone's German edition. It had been nine years since Pritchard's previous release (2004's By Paris, By Taxi, By Accident), and due to an unlikely set of circumstances, A Trip to the Coast began taking shape in 2013. A friend and musician, Tim Bradshaw, moved to Pritchard's vicinity by chance. "We did the album together, basically because we're mates and we thought we'd have fun doing it," Pritchard is reported to have said in 2013. "But the response was great," he says in 2015. "I had no idea what to expect, but the welcome back was amazing." He's an unassuming character who doesn't pay much attention to who said what about whom -- the five-star reviews, radio play, shows, and videos -- although he was most concerned for the record company representative who had to be airlifted off a beach on the Welsh island of Anglesey while filming the video for "Trentham," the first single off A Trip to the Coast, in early 2014. In early 2015, Pritchard and Bradshaw returned to the studio to start the follow-up. Gradually, in bits and pieces, the album emerged. "The last album was very much about a journey of sorts," says Pritchard, "whereas this one is more rooted in one place, both thematically and emotionally." It was recorded mostly in Burslem, England ("The Mother Town"), with Bradshaw, Mike Rhead, Liam Bradley, and Remy LaPlage. Horns were added in France, and it was mixed in Burslem, Berlin, and Singapore with Bradshaw's long-time studio partner, Roo Pigott. The Burslem studio is a short step away from The Leopard inn (English writer Arnold Bennett's old fictional haunt), Vale Park (the home ground of Port Vale F.C.), and Waterloo Road, the namesake for Jason Crest's song "Waterloo Road," which French singer Joe Dassin covered under the title "Les Champs Élysées." The songs on Mother Town Hall are of the classic Bill Pritchard genre. Sparkling guitars, choruses to sing along to, meltingly beautiful ballads, and personal everyday lyrics about characters both real and imagined -- a figure whose only female company is a flower; the "Vampire of New York," who married a priest from Birmingham; and many others.