I bought this album a few days ago and haven't been able to stop playing it. Seriously. I have a small pile of albums which I haven't listened to and yet I keep on deciding to repeat play Henry Priestman's album instead, it's that good. Like a songwriting cross between Ray Davies and Malcolm Middleton with slightly Jaggeresque vocals, "The Chronicles Of Modern Life" is a brilliantly written, captivating listen which comments on and, more than often, protests against all of the trappings of contemporary life, such as redundancy (Don't You Love Me No More), getting old (Old, Grey's The New Blonde), relationships (What You Doin' With Me, He Ain't Good Enough For You) and corporate, homogenous life (No To The Logo, It's Called A Heart). Although the lyrical theme of this release is slightly world weary and cynical, the subjects are tackled with humour, wit and a knowing wisdom, so it is never anything other than an uplifting and yet bittersweet listen. The music is excellent as well, each toe-tapping song having a brilliant melodic hook and the style being indie/alternative rock with a slight country edge from time to time.
Born in 1955 in Hull, Priestman has been in the music business since the late 70's and has worked as a session musician, songwriter and record producer for other artists as well as being a member of The Christians, so it is fair to say that his debut album has been a long time coming, but it has been well worth waiting for. This is virtually a one-man album, with Henry playing all of the instruments himself, with a few exceptions on selected tracks and, with its warm, accessible feel, is a real joy to listen to from beginning to end. Although I'm sure that anybody could derive great enjoyment from this album, I think it will strike a chord with the over-30s and those with experience of many of the ups and downs life can dish out. It will also especially appeal to those with a bit of an anti-establishment attitude, with numerous caustic observations about the sheep who follow the flock.
Henry Priestman, together with his co-writer Tom Gilbert, has made an exceptional album and, without a doubt, one of the best you will hear this year. I only hope that we won't have to wait another thirty years for a follow-up! Highly recommended.