The story of Everything But The Girl has been well documented: a Hull duo find a common interest in melancholic folk, latterly reinventing themselves as a cutting edge dance/drum and bass act. Yet before all this Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt recorded their own solo albums for the Cherry Red label. Watt took a back seat on vocal duties on his EBTG work but here he demonstrates that his own frail timbre is perfectly suited to the laments of 'North Marine Drive'. The mood is earnest - but never overwrought - ranging from evocative location-driven pieces ('On Box Hill', the title track) to the embittered self-loathing of 'Waiting Like Mad'. The simplicity and clarity of the arrangements (generally just Ben and his guitar) means that the songs haven't aged a jot. There's also the generous addition of the 'Summer Into Winter' collaboration with Robert Wyatt, conjuring up rainy day atmospheres with filigree guitars and piano patterns to the fore. For fans of modern artists favouring the "less is more" approach, this is a must hear.
NORTH MARINE DRIVE/SUMMER INTO WINTER