This time last year we were watching Drew Allen striving to win a slot at The Larmer Tree festival in front of 100 people – how times have changed
Drew Allen is one of those chaps that seem to have been around forever on the local scene, so when he got the chance to support James Blunt up at the BIC then it felt a bit like AFC Bournemouth getting promoted to the premier league (and that could never happen could it?)
They often say that you make your own luck and Allen, having been given a little slice of good fortune has taken it with both hands and produced an excellent live album of his performance. More of this later.
The 6 track album/EP (we're not sure where the dividing line is either) features the best of Drews' beautifully written songs which give a great sense of his night in front of 3600 local souls.
First up is 'The Deal', one of Drews' live staples and immediately the poetic quality of his songs impresses. It's fair to say that there are some signs of nerves in his voice, and lets be fair that's hardly surprising but he gets quickly into his stride with what is an engaging tune.
Allen strikes me as a storyteller almost in the way that the guitar and harmonica are almost incidental and this kind of old style minstrel is in full effect in '3rd time prosperous' . There's a story there somewhere, it may be a little opaque, but it's there alright.
This leads me to the disc itself. When an artist gets a break, however it comes then it's important that they make the best of the opportunity. Drew Allen has produced a very professional package with an excellent CD, beautifully printed and enclosed. The inlay booklet includes lyrics and some superb photography by Alan Jones of rockstar images. This gives the buyer full value but also marks out Drew as someone who is serious about his art and others could take a leaf out of his book.
Saving the best for last, my favourite track of the disc is 'Only just begun'.Appropriate, not only for the night but also in terms of Drew Allen's career, we have a bluegrass/Americana/folk mix with a feeling of a roadtrip. At the end of the track Drew gets a well deserved ovation from an appreciative BIC crowd, which is unusual for a support act.
This CD is an excellent record of a great night in the early stages of what is sure to be a glittering career. Drew Allen crafts songs like little oasis of quality in a desert of ordinary.
If you see his name on a local live music bill then go along and check out the gig. We think you'll like.
Speaking recently Allen was full of praise for Blunt and his crew who he credits for helping him through the transition from playing in front of crowds of 200 to three and a half thousand.
Track 3, 'Caught up in Aries virtue' continues Allens' poetic style and the nerves begin to vanish as he gets into his stride. It's a song appreciated by the filling up BIC.
Drew won his spot supporting Mr Blunt as did a number of other hopefuls. What is interesting is that Allen was the only one to record their performance and turn it into a CD.