Wednesday, 12 January 2022

"A Little More Time With…The Senior Service" with guest vocalist Rachel Lowrie. Ms Sheringham-Boom reviews the new 10" Vinyl E.P. out now on Damaged Goods Records

"Instrumentalists find their voice" by Ms Sheringham-Boom (January 2022)

Happy 2022 anyone, anyone? This year has gotten off to a shaky start, and like everyone else, I am totally over this pandemic. It is however shaping up in one respect due to the release of some much-anticipated new music. Hopefully more widespread live events going ahead will follow across the UK and further afield in the not-too-distant future. Hat’s off to the fortunate ones who have managed to continue with their music throughout this time. There is a very welcome return to one band who managed to do just that at Ranscombe Studios in June last year. They are of course our favourite instrumentalists, The Senior Service (who feature Medway musicians Graham Day, Wolf Howard, Darryl Hartley and Jon Barker) whose much anticipated mini-LP is due for release on the Damaged Goods label this Friday 14th January. The band cordially invite us to spend "A Little More Time With…" Don’t mind if I do. But wait, there are vocals you say? 

The story goes that around year ago, The Senior Service (on a drunken night out) decided that they wanted to add a ‘little more’ to their instrumental sound. Enter Rachel Lowrie a local singer/songwriter who has previously recorded with a fair few fellow Medway stalwarts. Cited as their best work to date, four of the tracks on "A Little More Time With…" were written with Rachel in mind, and in a recent interview with Glenn Prangnell for the Groovy Uncle Podcast she declared that it’s ‘probably the best recording I’ve ever done.’ Who are we, readers, to argue with that? So, I put the question to Rachel about the collaboration 

Q: How did you feel about being approached by the band to sing vocals for them? 

Rachel: We were at Mr Unswitchable’s Open Mic night at Rochester Social Club in 2019 and I sang "24 Hours from Tulsa" (me and my ukulele) with some level of intensity. Jon Barker approached me about singing on their album that evening. I wasn’t sure the recording would happen until it had. And it’s a thing because they have made instrumental music and now vocals. I wondered what the songs would be like. I felt like I got a sneak preview.

Q: Were you familiar with the band’s sound, the individual band members, and their musical heritage?
Rachel: Yes of course, but I’m lazy with the details. I have grown up and lived in Medway most of my life, so I knew their names and band names. I’ve been to various gigs over the years, Graham Day & The Forefathers, The Daggermen, The Buff Medways, and The Senior Service etc.

Q: What was it like to be part of the recording process?
Rachel: I got the tracks and lyrics and turned up and sang to be honest, and it was all quite nice. As a bunch they were kind and welcoming and they laughed a lot - they have been mates for years so it felt like a relaxed space to come into. I was excited-nervous of course. I really like the songs they wrote. And I enjoy being at Jim’s studio (Jim Riley, Ranscombe Studios).

Q: What can we expect from you at the launch at the end of January, are you excited about it?
Rachel: I’m just looking forward to singing the songs live, should be fun.

Then there’s Darryl Hartley. As well as playing bass he also designed the fabulously evocative artwork for the cover sleeve. I asked him about his inspiration for this… 

Darryl: The sleeve artwork follows the previous designs we’ve had. I really like the Saul Bass posters of the sixties, so we’ve adopted that look as we believe it suits the music. I think with this record we were going for a jazz/lounge type feel to the whole package, so it ties in nicely with that too. It’s important that the artwork compliments the music and the 10" format also helps with this.

…and whilst he was there, I asked him about his song, the cool and collected "Just A Little Time".

Darryl: "Just A Little Time’ was written some years ago when I was going through a bit of a Bacharach phase or at least trying to go a bit Bacharach (I’d never claim that I’d ever reach those lofty heights). Years later when we decided we were going to do this record I remembered the song and thought it would work well with a female vocal. I had in my head a Dusty Springfield big ballad type of thing, a bit of brass, a dramatic chorus. It has come out pretty successfully. There are some unintentionally Carole King elements to it, which I’m not going to complain about!

Indeed. In fact, each band member has contributed to the writing of the songs on this EP, and it is difficult to choose a favourite, so I won’t. As well as the originals the band have included two covers of more obscure instrumentals: John Schroeder’s "Lovin' You Girl" and "Mysterious Land" by The Chris Lamb Orchestra. With this mini-LP you can expect the sublime, the nonchalant, and music of cinematic proportions; Hammond draped around brass, a sometimes-explosive guitar complimented by a driving rhythm section, and the stirring voice of a cool chanteuse.

You can hear a song from the new E.P. in our latest episode of Retrosonic Podcast.

"A Little More Time With…The Senior Service" the new 10" Vinyl E.P. with guest vocalist Rachel Lowrie is available to order from Damaged Goods Records here. For more info on The Senior Service please check out their Facebook page here. With thanks to Ms Sheringham-Boom. Ms Sheringham-Boom is the bassist in Edinburgh's premier purveyors of Garage Rock, Thee Girl Fridays.

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