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Alan Tyler | Faithful (Littlefield)
That Alan Tyler used to be the lead singer and songwriter in The Rockingbirds cannot be denied; that he looks handsome on the sleeve of this disc is more open to argument. There he sits, in his local pub, judging by the décor, peering out at us earnestly and making us yearn for a nice view of an empty highway or a roadside diner. This is his first solo album, two years in the making. It features a band made up of old Rockingbirds cohorts, and pedal steel colossus BJ Cole. Track one, which dares to be mid-tempo, is shuffling standout Everybody is a Cowboy Now, which name-checks Adelaide, confusingly as our man comes from London. (And references to Soho, tube stations and the White Cliffs of Dover are not common in the lyrics of country songs, but all feature on here.) Track two is the cutely bouncing single Nickel in a Diamond Mine, which sounds shudderingly ideal for line dancing. And one called There's a Place in my Heart Called Texas tries a little too hard, and may rot your teeth. But elsewhere various textures and combinations of country, folk and rock influences make for an attractive mixture. Where this impresses it's down to the songwriting, as well as some nice production touches, like the heavenly pedal steel choir on Silver Whisker. Sweet.