Now I’m not a difficult person to please in general, but where music is concerned I’ve grown to be highly critical since becoming a rawk journo. So I surprised myself when, after witnessing Streebeck’s half-hour stint supporting David Essex in Cheltenham, I sat itching to buy his album. The promise of a free badge helped too, I’m a sucker for badges.
There was an exquisite feel to the performance; in this enormous cavern of a town hall, a solitary man played his acoustic guitar beneath a lonely spotlight, and won us over, hook line and sinker. Radio Two listeners may have heard the mysterious name, as the superb single ‘Wasted Time’ has been glistening through their airwaves. Streebeck has also played live in Radio One’s Maida Wale studios, an illustrious feat for any artist. ‘Wasted Time’ sounds, on the album, far more elaborate that it did live, incorporating a steady drum beat into the song for added vigour, atop the guitar/harmonica combination. One cannot help but see a Dylan influence in the simplicity of Streebeck’s style, the folky undertones, the difference being that the former is shockingly glorified, and the latter deserves glorification. Every song on this record stands out as poignant, genuine, and simply gorgeous. The incredible talent behind the guitar playing is moving enough in itself, and is amplified by lyrics that actually mean something.
For me, ‘Eighty Eight’ is the most touching song on the album, with the line “if it’s all the same to you, I’d rather not pretend that we’re still friends” brimming over with emotion. Other standout tracks include the gently moving opener ‘Twilight’, the darkly pitying ‘Pirates’, and the uplifting ‘Caged’, which will always remind me of how I felt when Streebeck opened his performance to an audience unprepared for his sparkling brilliance.
‘Without a Baedeker’ shines from start to finish, and Streebeck is somehow startlingly different to every other modern man-and-his-guitar act. So different it turned the mind of a cynical hard rock fan upside down.
Order the album online now, and Streebeck might even sign it for you. That’s another great thing about him, he’s really a very nice boy!
(This also appeared in December 2006, issue 25