It is impossible to write about Edward Penfold without mentioning Syd Barrett. Penfold’s voice, tonally gliding down and then up for emphasis here and there, and the detached yet personally observational lyrics, are all pure Syd.
On Penfold’s debut album “Caulkhead” that influence was fittingly wrapped in shambolic recording techniques and untuned instrument sounds. And it worked like a charm.
Although the new album “Denny Isle Drive” remains in ‘denial drive’ when it comes to what century we live in, it is much better recorded than the debut and contains considerably less out-of-tunefullness. But adding an element of order turns out to be a stroke of genius, especially as it is still beautifully juxtaposed with chaos.
Whereas barrettesque twists and rhythmical turns are kept firmly in place, the beauty of the arrangements and the pastoral brilliance of the songwriting open doors to hitherto undiscovered psychedelic backyards.
The lyrical themes on “Denny Isle Drive” are simultaneously lucid and solipsistic, as is well illustrated on the track “Betsy’s Linen,” sung in an unevenly metered out voice:
“Mixing my words with my drinks
And poured it all down the sink
A fleeting moment to think
Now I find
A piece of mind
I’ve got something to say
It’s on the tip of my tongue
The teeth and the lips and I’m done
The only thing is, when I open my mouth
The words that I found are gone
I don’t mind”
Throughout, there is a fragile balance between homage and inventiveness, and where Edward Penfold will go next is anyone’s guess. But right now he is mining pure gold. A 24 carat instant classic.