CD Review of Simple by Andy Yorke
Recommended if you like
Coldplay, U2, the Verve
Label
Chocolate Lab
Andy Yorke: Simple

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

D
espite indications to the contrary, bearing the same last name as a famous sibling can be more of a hindrance than a help. The pressure of having to live up to someone else’s standard can easily subvert any attempt to make a name for one’s self. Just ask Tom Fogerty or LivingstonTaylor about the pressures they faced in trying to carve out a career in the shadow of brothers John and James respectively. Or talk to Andy Yorke, whose brother Thom currently presides over a band of globe-shaking magnitude, a little combo called Radiohead.

Andy didn’t let that defer him in the past; in fact, in the late ‘90s, his own outfit, Unbelievable Truth, made a small but indelible impression on a modest group of devotees with their arched, anthemic sound and a style that was considerably more affecting than the left-of-center experimental designs advanced by brother Thom’s ensemble. Nevertheless, Unbelievable Truth failed to make enough of an impression to consider a continuing career and consequently, Yorke left in 2000, opting instead to work as a translator for Greenpeace.

Despite those noble aspirations, changes in circumstance apparently inspired some songs of redemption, and as a result, Andy is at in again, this time in solo mode. The newer material keeps to the Unbelievable Truth template, still bearing the anguished ring of a man emotionally overwrought and looking for a way excise his demons. However, this time around, left to his own devices and the cushion of acoustic guitar, keys, cello and strings, Yorke’s songs take on a more precious glow. The album title is more or less a misnomer; while the title track, “Found the Road,” “Lay Down” and “One in a Million” start out as plaintive pleas, they slowly grow in urgency and ferocity, becoming a broader sprawl that suggests Coldplay at their most effusive.

Andy Yorke

Still, this is hardly the stuff to fill stadiums. For those who desire a more intimate view, there are several songs that are constrained to a simpler template, grander ambitions aside. As a result, “Twist of the Knife,” “Ride and Fall,” “Always by your Side” and “Let It Be True” hold the album to a mellower motif. The more believable truth is that Yorke may be most adept at expressing himself as a troubled troubadour, one who rails at an unseen muse in hopes of finding his own vindication.

Inevitably then, despite its tangled emotions and unresolved issues – of which, there seem to be many – Simple is a promising return and one which could establish Yorke as a presence every bit as formidable as his brother. Admittedly, that’s no “simple” prospect, but it does appear one that’s attainable as a result of this absolutely enthralling effort.

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