The Dredgermen’s self-titled debut album arrives with an eponymous lopsided gallop. Indecipherable lyrics are nicely doubled. Bob Dylan (probably) provides rudimentary harmonica and the whole thing is mildly alarming. It’s enough to make you wonder what’s going on, which is enough to make you lean in and keep listening, so it works. However, what the album really needs in order to get going is a song named after a lobster fishing cutter.
Fortuitous then that the next song, “Le Camaret“, is named after a lobster fitting cutter. Again, we have solid doubled vocals, some cracking violin from Justin Parker and a catchy ‘I’m Not Well’ chorus. This is more like it, but more like what?
They may be a crooked influence on songs like “Stormy Sands“, “No Option But To Die“, and “Run, Run, Run“. Or maybe not. However, the influence of the Singing Loins on the Dredgermen is undeniable, which is why they don’t deny it. Quite the contrary. Le Camaret itself seems to reference the Loins’ Monsters Ashore, and the stomping (literally) “Be I A Man, Be I A Beast” is pure waltz time Loins. The standout “River Song” could almost be the Loins, especially when Patrick sings “a pint of brown ale”. Does it matter? No. River Song itself has more to it, not least the line “Let’s go down to the bay. Jump on my vessel and let’s sail away”. Does “vessel” mean “willy” here? Let’s hope so.
Another standout is “Shallow“. Musically a little bit different, and quite an ambitious production with nice tight chords played in a relaxed style, and wobbly backing vocals beneath the chorus which sound as if they’re coming from under the sea, reminiscent of Fairport Convention’s spacey take on Chelsea Morning.
Lyrically, the song “Tommy” is the most engaging. Whistles open the track, giving way to slow and deliberate guitar with nice flourishes, coloured in with tasteful splashes of percussion. We learn of Tommy, a young man from Cookham Hill, who enlists and goes to war. The young medic with faked papers who treats his trench foot is a vivid character, well written in just a few words. I won’t spoil the ending.
The Dredgermen have produced a pretty strong debut. Yes, influence is declared, but there’s plenty of originality and variety here. Well worth a listen. Good band name and title too.