John Squire, Marshall’s House

There seems to come a time for certain veterans of the music industry when it’s not enough for them just to write satisfying, convincing songs, so they come up with grand plans and concept albums, or pretentious excuses. For Marshall’s House, Squire has drawn inspiration from the American realist paintings of Edward Hopper: “The reason I wanted to write about them was that I find them all quite haunting – superficially light, and awkward and ordinary, but there was something disturbing about some of the characters.” Unfortunately, that disturbing something that may have led to Squire’s interest in Hopper’s work doesn’t seem to come out in the songs here. Without it, they are just light and awkward and ordinary.

The album is unsatisfying in several ways. The guitar parts are fine, but not as interesting or inspirational as they should have been, and then there’s Squire’s voice. It’s not very musical, but apparently his raspy tones are an acquired taste. Even if I enjoyed the vocal straining, I would still be disappointed with the finish of the album. It just sounds unpolished. Even on the first listen potential improvements to the songs suggest themselves. The clumsy transitions through the sections of ‘Tables For Ladies’ for example, sound like a struggling pub band, and the resemblances in two of the tracks cannot be ignored. ‘Yewl Riding A Swell’ is R.E.M.’s ‘Everybody Hurts’ as it comes in, and the last track, ‘Gas’, sounds, amazingly, like ‘Love Is All Around’ by Wet Wet Wet until Squire starts singing.