Super review by Cal Gibson, of The Secret Soul Society and Scruffy Soul Recordings.
Something gentle, sweet, and timeless this way comes: Guy Maxwell’s super-obscure folk-funk album, first released over forty years ago and rarely seen since, has been lovingly rescued and revitalised by the guys at Growing Bin Records. It`s safe to say that it’s been worth the extended wait. Cultural excavation of the freshest kind is the order of the day as Guy’s delicate compositions float free of time through the intervening years, landing with the deftest of sighs firmly into today’s Balearic climes. There is, however, also a melancholy that underpins the lushness – perfect for the autumnal mood that`s currently settling in – that ensures there is a tinge of sadness beneath the cherubic melodies. Faint echoes of Nick Drake’s world-weariness, perhaps. It`s great to report as well that Guy himself has been tracked down – alive and well and residing in Geneva. The thrill of seeing your younger work revalued and sought-after must be considerable – again possibly tinged with regret that it’s taken this long for a wider audience to be reached. Watch Out Sally kicks off the six-track offering (slimmed down from the original nine tracks) and straight away we’re firmly in laid back Becker and Fagen territory. Musicians from the Chilean outfit Santiago provide the soothing soundbed, with Guy’s distinctive vocal delivery draped over a polished chordal arrangement. You could imagine this being tacked on to the end of Aja without anyone objecting. It’s that accomplished.
You Never Sang This Song continues the smooth grooves: folky inflections rubbing up against funky AOR. A neat twist-up that backs up Guy’s contention that he was checking out Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, and Joao Gilberto, at the time of writing. You can hear the influences, and what Guy’s done with them. It’s lovely stuff – grooves for the ages influenced by the greats, but with a subtle spin on proceedings to keep it fresh and involving.
Funny Weather rides confidently in on Beach Boys-esque backing vocals, before tangling up melodic expectations and dropping into a cute chorus which morphs into a conga-led bridge. This is assured song-writing – sophisticated adult pop – cleverly thought-out and well-executed.
The vibe throughout remains pleasingly low-key: the bossa feel of Beautiful Day slinks along nicely. Guy hymning his silent song to a lover, his child-like cosmic wonder drenched in finger-picked figures, sky-writing its way to the heart. Laid-back, simple but effective: woodwind picking out the grace notes – perfectly done.
Fascinating stuff then, the hopes and dreams of a young Guy Maxwell rediscovered almost half a century later. You can only imagine how it feels now, watching his songs emerge all over again, this time as an old man, looking back into a past that never was, things that might have been, roads never travelled. Outside My Window is a weathered document of what might have been, the sweet sorrow of fleeting stardom, rekindled as the fire draws down to its embers. Deep and delicious and well worth checking out.
Guy Maxwell`s Outside My Window is out now on Growing Bin Records.