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Album Review: Dave McPherson - The Hardship Diaries

The trend of frontmen taking a break from their bands and going all stripped back and introverted seems to have caught on over on this side of the Atlantic. Fightstar frontman Charlie Simpson, is releasing his first solo effort in May, and ‘The Hardship Diaries’ is a similar offering from InMe man Dave McPherson. Whatever your feelings on “solo projects”, they do allow the protagonists to display a different take on their music and often indulge their hidden passions. McPherson has been touring as a solo act for a while now, and has already put out a number of self-released EPs; however ‘The Hardship Diaries’ is his debut full length. It definitely displays another side to McPherson’s musicality, and is not as bleak as its title suggests.

The expectancy whenever members of bands embark on solo projects is that all the songs will either sound like acoustic run-throughs of full band songs or be so abstract and different that they won’t appeal. Dave McPherson successfully avoids both scenarios. There are very few songs that sound like re-worked InMe songs and they are of a quality that means the album should have a wider appeal than just ardent InMe fans.

The twelve tracks on the album are threaded together by a quartet of songs that cover the four seasons. These work as an interesting proposition, because despite the fact that they do not follow on from each other in the track-listing, the listener still gets a sense of cohesion among the four tracks. ‘Spring Hearts Need Blood’ opens the entire album, as well as the seasons quartet. It’s not the most explosive start to an album, but it’s fairly upbeat in sound, even though lyrically it’s quite depressing. McPherson delves into fresh starts in relationships by looking at negative events of the past.

‘Summer She Puts Me In A Good Mood’ is the best track on the album, reflecting the mood of its chosen season perfectly. It’s upbeat and sounds like a more credible Kooks in its rhythm and structure. ‘Autumn A Ghostly Reprise’ is the worst track on the album. It is over-long and slef-indulgent and sounds like a poor InMe B-side. Things pick up for ‘Winter Hibernation’, it’s simple in its instrumentation, utilising mainly McPherson’s voice and a simple line of acoustic guitar. Lyrically, it’s very redemptive and full of hope.

The seasons quartet of songs make the album more cohesive, and McPherson has done well to place the other eight tracks around them to ensure the record flows well. In fact, very little of ‘The Hardship Diaries’ comes across as filler as a direct consequence of the clever ordering of the tracks. Other highlights on the album include the rousing cockneyfied anthem ‘Before I Even Had You’ and the repent ‘Last Year’.

Every song on ‘The Hardship Diaries’ shows off McPherson’s talent as a composer and songwriter, and there is little on this album to criticise. Even his voice, which grates at times on InMe’s work is bearable, and even endearing at times, on this album. Whereas many solo projects fail to deliver Dave McPherson has gone above and beyond the appeal of InMe with his first solo album.


‘The Hardship Diaries’ by Dave McPherson is released on May 16th through Graphite Records.

Dave McPherson on MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.

Dan Issitt

Alter The Press!