Available on CD ( Limited edition of pressings) and Digital Download from:
Reviewed by: Terry Mead 17/01/2024
SO/LO is the 4th album release from Christchurch based British artist David Thorpe, the genuine One-Man Band, AKA Li’l Chuck The One-Man Skiffle Machine. �SO/LO is his first Li’l chuck release since MONO in 2019, an album recorded in Sugar Rays 1950’s studio in Wickford, England with one microphone direct to 1/4-inch tape.
The one-man band is David Thorpe Aka Lil Chuck who plays apart from the vocals all the following instruments- Harmonica, Steel Telecaster, Resonator and Acoustic Guitars, Drums (including snare with a kick pedal) kick drum and Hi hat, and of course the Diddley Bow.
In SO/LO, the 13 original tracks are laid down in true one-man band style with all instruments played and recorded simultaneously. In fact, SO/LO has been a 100% one-man band project, Thorpe wrote, performed, engineered, and mixed the whole album alone, well, ‘one man and his dog’ with the assistance of his faithful mutt Bo at his side in the studio. Thorpe also created all the handmade artwork and filmed / edited the 2 videos for “You Need a Good Kick Up the Arse” and his newest single “Dog Tricks”.
So, let’s review track by track :
I Can’t Give It Away – So we are off with a superb harmonica intro before Davey breaks in on lyrics and acoustic accompaniment It’s a cool bluesy number and a worthy opener.
You Can Do It- Here we start with some slide which continues as a background riff, another great laid-back track with lyrics and instrumental fine tuning giving it a rather chilling affair.
Even Keel – Picking intro with the steel guitar journeys through this track with some harmonica accompaniment. It’s a nice easy listening number with both lyrics and music.
Dog Tricks-A tongue in cheek song about teaching a dog new tricks and how it plays on walks, cute little lament with the video of this track was taken at various beaches around Canterbury & Dunedin New Zealand.
You Need A Good Kick Up The Arse- Well the title tells you straight upbeat stomping number has traits of Dave Edmunds in places and a good driving beat.
Diddley Bow – Tribute to the late great Bo Diddley in style of the legend himself. It’s a ripper straight out of the blocks with an awesome drumbeat. The Diddley bow played on this track was made out of a $4 biscuit tin and a broom handle.
Doing This – Love the backbeat sound on this one and the spontaneous harmonica playing, pushes those crossover boundaries in diverse music.
Domestic Stomp – Straight out of the Delta blues of the shanty deep south with this one, a traditional sound that has remained with us, Davey brings it on back.
Hitch A Ride – Catchy acoustic riff runs through this one with the lyrics telling us about the powerful story of hitching a ride back home.
Once It’s Gone – A seventies sound to this one I feel with a deep backbeat, the lyrics have some resounding truth in them sung in a very adapt style by Davey.
My Tomorrow – Back to a traditional style laid back blues track which will have you rocking in your hammock. The picking on the steel guitar with some neat harmonica really works this number well.
Sunstrike – Fast moving tune with a choice beat about the sun striking the all familiar screen a scenario we have all been through. Bouncy number with great acoustic accompaniment.
For Steve- To end with a nice little tune remising the memories of Steve Boyer a good friend from Davey’s Warwick/Leamington days a big influence no doubt.
So now let’s summarise: Well, this is truly a one-man’s complimentary album in all the aspects of making it a tremendous feat in itself. I have had the pleasure of seeing Davey live and he certainly gives it everything in his performance and this has reflected in this album. Recommended hell yes grab a copy now you won’t be sorry.
Band Bio in Davey’s own words:
Thorpe, well, let’s be honest about this, me, yes, it's me also doing the PR, creative writing, promo, and media stuff - ouch! I'm having to tell you amazing folks who have read this far how proud I am to be this incredible one-man band guy and how outstanding the album is and why you should invest your time listening to it. Weird eh! This is really uncomfortable for me but I’m now 52 and no one else is fighting my corner. It's a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it so they say - any takers? I’m a good bloke to back. AI? Yes and no… no Artificial Intelligence as far as I am aware but yes to Adept Individual and Actual Instruments. In the almost 5-year gap between recording Li'l Chuck albums I haven’t been standing still. I have recorded and released an entire instrumental harmonica album under the guise of David Thorpe - Harmonica (check it out here on Bandcamp), I recorded, and assistant produced an album for now Sydney based James Scott / First Time Caller, (check it out here on Bandcamp) plus I’ve done numerous other recording projects, videos and band projects including The Skeatles.I wasn’t intending to do another Li’l Chuck album, I thought I’d done everything I could with my mouth, hands and feet but a strange thing happened... I’ve been having longer and longer periods of feeling blue, blue enough to get professional help. I’d lost a lot of confidence and my identity and hadn’t written any news songs for ages, then it hit me. To write songs, I have to create the time to sit down and write, something I hadn’t done. I was busy with life and family and spent all my free time sailing on Lyttleton harbour. One day, I decided to allow time to sit down and write a song to prove to myself I could still do it. By the time the kids got home from school I’d written 8 songs, then another 2 followed while I was noodling and practicing the 8. A mate challenged me to get the word Lenticular into a song, so I wrote another, that made 11. I had some others in my back pocket and that resulted in an album’s worth. The album has a few songs that are a little heavier than some may expect of me. I decided to have no instrumental boundaries and added electric guitar, snare, diddley bow and a few other bits and bobs to my usual set up of resonator guitar, kick, hi hat, harp and vox. SO/LO the album title is like me, is pretty simple, it's a solo project obviously, plus I’d been So Low for a while, the name links in with Mono, my last album, I love AC/DC (mainly Bon Scott era) and the album is far from being HI/FI.When the media come knocking after reading this and loving SO/LO, I’ll be able to tell them all about my recording process, how I built a model yacht while I was recording, the devastation and anguish of my computer crashing and the near (and I mean very near) removal of my left big toe with a felling axe. The 2 singles will be available on all digital platforms for ‘free’, the full album itself will be available on CD via my website and Bandcamp and Digital on Bandcamp. I truly appreciate all those who have supported my art by purchasing the music I spend hours and hours on. As the opening track says, “I can’t give it away’, one can read this a couple of ways…
100% one-man band project. Everything done by David Thorpe AKA Li'l Chuck.