by Chris Hatch
Late last year, Lancastrian-songwriter, Stephen Hudson, released four-track EP, A River Runs Through It. Performing under the moniker Dog Daisies, and backed by a full band, it was an ambitious mix of windswept, sky scraping, British Sea Power-style rock and textured, slow-burning instrumentals.
He returned earlier this year with the first instalment of An Inland Voyage – a two part collection of songs that were written and recorded at home inbetween sleepless bouts of looking after a new child. A collection of songs that took a slightly mellower, more subdued turn.
The phrase ‘home-recorded, lo-fi EP’ can strike fear into the hearts of many a music fan – too often it’s shorthand for a creatively void, lazily hashed together collection of half-written songs. Thankfully in Hudson’s hands we are safe. Without the various tools of a proper recording studio at his disposal, you could forgive the multi-instrumentalist for playing it largely safe, but instead of being restrained, An Inland Voyage Pt. 2 is flecked throughout with streaks of creativity – toy pianos, stylophones, and even a sampled toddler give the songs character and colour.
Hudson also has a brilliant eye for a tongue-in-cheek lyric, which on this EP encompasses everything from threatening a cat owner (on the scuzzy, slow-groove funk of Sparkleblues), to a genius re-write of an old diVINYLS lyric – ‘I don’t care about anybody else, when I think about you I vacate myself’.
But it’s when Hudson gets more introspective and personal that the songs work best. Baby Is Blue is a gently sung lullaby/love letter that is the most straightforward ‘singer-songwriter’ track on the record, and also the most effective, while EP closer, I’ll Be Found, is a simple, piano-led piece about freeing himself from feeling trapped – Hudson’s slight Cumbrian lilt lending the song a fragile, personal touch.
An Inland Voyage Pt. 2 isn’t perfect, but in a lot of ways that’s part of its charm – left to his own devices, Hudson has managed to squeeze in nods to Fionn Regan, Kevin Morby, The Beta Band, and Daniel Johnston, while still managing to create something original and fresh, that rarely takes the obvious route.
With a handful of feet-finding EPs under his belt, we can only hope that a full length Dog Daisies album is imminent, as Hudson has shown that he is a deft, versatile, and unique songwriter.
Secret Meeting score: 80