Made In Middlesex is the new album from Alan Tyler, lead singer and main songwriter for the much-loved London country band The Rockingbirds. It presents a set of songs clearly reflecting the period during which it was recorded; a time both febrile and uncertain interspersed with longueurs of enforced quiet and reflection. A mix of the public and the personal, thoughts on life’s landmarks and inevitable change, retaining more than a hint of self-deprecation and country leanings.
Its recording mirrored the process embraced for 2018’s acclaimed El Tapado, with tracks initially laid down on an OP-1 programmable synthesiser, and further contributions added remotely or in sessions at Sean Read’s Famous Times studio. Half the songs were recorded entirely at Alan’s parents’ home in Kenton on the north-west outskirts of London – hence Made In Middlesex – during the lockdown spring of 2020; others are enhanced by Patrick Ralla (electric guitar and backing vocals), Eddie Real (drums) and Rick Batey (bass guitar) with Sean adding backing vocals, keyboards, and brass.
The album’s opener, ‘Somewhere Better’, first surfaced in the distant days of autumn 2019, reflecting hopes of some more positive resolution to the polarised atmospheres of that particular season. Its realisation perhaps imagined in the upbeat jangle of ‘Spring’ where harpsichord effects celebrate fresh starts and challenges. Both ‘Mercy’ and ‘Saint Saturnine’ carry airs of folky reminiscence and dashes of regret while ‘Lucky People’ with its definite lean towards ‘on hold’ muzak reflects wryly on the ‘click and collect’ automated lifestyles of our ‘new normal’. ‘Yesterday’s Chips’ combines a nice play on an old cliché with gentle self-deflation; a tongue-in-cheek caper, as is ‘Write Another Country Song’ which delightfully has its cake and eats it too.
‘Write Another Country Song’ had its first outing as part of We Love The Betsey Too an online celebration and fund-raiser for The Betsey Trotwood pub located on Farringdon Road in London’s Clerkenwell where Alan hosts the long-standing Come Down & Meet The Folks club. The reopening of both the pub and the club herald a return of better days; Made In Middlesex arriving to soundtrack them is right, proper, and most welcome.