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Gentle Songs of Ceaseless Horror

I think I first heard (and fell for) Louis Barabbas when he played in Sheffield many years ago. Louis playing a bizarre, Tom Waitsian version of 'I Wanna Be Like You' is an image that stuck in my mind whenever I have seen him with The Bedlam Six or solo since.

Within The Bedlam Six ranks, Barabbas has carved himself an entertaining and sometimes terrifyingly theatrical persona - foot stomping, shouting and crooning to bring forth the beasts he sees below our feet. You can see why he is regularly compared to Waits or Cave. But, much like his counterparts, every time he wrote a dramatic song of Faustian wanderlust he would find himself with fragments of ideas that were much more understated and personal.

Taking everything he has learnt with Bedlam, this album is a highly matured venture. Not to say the others are immature, but on this set of songs these techniques are repeated and refined with a delicate touch - never too much of anything. And when he does dip his toe into a crooked tale, its delivery is tempered, controlled and softened. You can rest your head, but I wouldn’t trust those dreams.

Gentle Songs of Ceaseless Horror isn’t a move away from Barabbas’ immense theatrical style at all (just look at the title), but it certainly focuses it, boiling his dramatic and darkly romantic storytelling down to more subtle ballads.

by Now Then Sheffield