"Hands On" by Chasing DeerReview
I do hope that you'll remember about two years ago Paul Englefield interviewed one of the most exciting local bands from our area Chasing Deer on these pages? At that time, the band, while still very much retaining their Warwickshire roots & identity, were following their dream & building a new additional base in West London & anticipating tours to Europe, the U.S. and Japan.
Well in the intervening months, they have continued to play to Warwickshire, London & international audiences gaining new fans. They have also, after several very well received singles and EPs, just released their debut full album, "Hands On", a review of which you are currently reading.
The hard work they have put in is definitely paying off with this set. After the hundreds of hours honing their techniques playing & busking a wide range of styles of covers, there seems no genre they do not have the confidence to explore in their own original material. What amazes me however is how they can deliver such variety with just three musicians (Rob (on vocals & keyboard), Peter (guitar) and drummer Adam). Rob described the styles on the record to me as containing "a 60s Beatles style track, an 80s ballad, an 80s pop song, a rock blues anthem, a 70s rock sing along, a 90s indie song, a Fleetwood Mac style song, a modern muse style electric track and a modern pop heavy bass song": which is quite some spectrum of sounds. I shan't spoil the fun for you of matching description to track name: you'll need to listen yourselves & have that pleasure. In fact the Beatles reference is key: they remain one of the few bands to incorporate such a wide range of influences that a whole new identity emerges.
At this point it might also be worth remembering a central quotation from the band talking with Paul in 2016: "We love what we do. We take pride in being well rehearsed and tight, harnessing the feeling that develops from working and writing as an acoustic trio."
Before moving onto the specific songs, it might be worth mentioning another notable feature of "Hands On" (and the singles) which is that the title of each song is rendered in British Sign Language and extended to the album cover which shows crossed fingers in a "universal sign of hope and luck".
The album includes remastered versions of every individual 2018 Chasing Deer single release ("Out of Time", "Calling for You", "Silence Hurts", "Against the Night", "Colour My World", "Placebo", "Another World", "Miracle", "Perfect Storm" & "Take Me Up A Level" plus a couple more tracks) so it certainly is, as the band say "a representation of Chasing Deer at this very moment in time, both as people, and a group of musicians who are passionate about creating music. We hope it will give an insight into what Chasing Deer is about and the direction we are heading in for the future."
It is also a fantastic calling card for bringing new listeners up to speed with the band & to treat longer term fans.
Replete with be beautifully crafted songs, played with consummate musicianship, there is something here for most everybody, not least lovers of diversity. I had to select one track for a particular exercise & I found it impossible to identify a "favourite": I could have made a case for all of them. What I would say is that despite Rob's identification (from the band's perspective) of influencing starting points, none of the tracks actually sounds precisely like its template: Chasing Deer have long since evolved beyond pastiche & emulation.
It gives this writer a glow of pride to see another local act flying the flag for the high quality of music from Coventry & Warwickshire: Chasing Deer are fantastic ambassadors for us.