Andrew Neil

Review of "Code Purple" By Mr. Steve Peck

Andrew Neil's debut album "Code Purple" should appeal to fans of contemporary "Outsider" or "Loner" folk with its spare musical backing and thought provoking lyrics. "Outsider" probably is the more apt term since "Loner Folk" usually connotes a depressed singer expressing their sadness about being alone, failed relationships, and lack of a promising future. While Andrew's lyrics may touch on that, he utilizes a much wider spectrum of imagery and subject matter than the self-absorbed depression of loner folk.

One of the first things that hit you right off the bat about "Code Purple" is it's off-handedness and seemingly haphazard execution. His vocals are not always distinct and his guitar playing is a loose backdrop to the song itself. Certain songs come across as purely rhythmic with the scratch of the guitar like a percussive washboard as the words roll and splash across the listener's consciousness. Other songs are more conventional and melodic. I tend to gravitate to these more conventional songs because that is my musical orientation. However, that does not make them better or the others less. It is just my handle to grab on to.

The sound of the record is crisp and immediate as if Andrew is in the same room with you, guitar in hand, eyes closed as he enters the deep well from which these songs came forth. The audible hum of equipment in the background and the rustling noises at the end of the tracks may annoy those who are looking for studio perfection. But that kind of production values is not what "Code Purple" is about. Yes, it sounds like a homemade live recording because that is what it is. "Code Purple" captures the fleeting moments when Andrew Neil stands still enough in his creative trajectory to document these songs, images and feelings. A highly prolific artist, Andrew lives in the moment of creation with performance being an extension of the creative process. This makes his music an actual living, breathing thing, something that can't be honed by sequencers and click tracks. To have such a sharp, organic and real recording, it takes you as close to Andrew as possible, his creations are in your hand. But they don’t stay there. They are moving, not just emotionally but also physically. His music conjures up movement, never staying still in one place.

At first my focus was on the sounds, the unusual timbre of his voice and the unique rhythms he plays on the guitar. But as you adapt to the sound and as the record progresses the words become clearer and clearer. Andrew is a powerful lyricist. He has an uncanny knack for lyrical phrases that are unique in their imagery. The words and the melodies start to seep in and you realize after a few minutes you are listening to something special, something that is not ordinary. It is upon repeated listenings that you get closer and closer to the core of Andrew Neil, which truly reveals itself over time, again as the creative moment keeps moving and expanding. His writing and perspective seem to come from some "other place," something unique to himself and now part of your world. Many of the greatest songwriters evoke a "crossing over" to alternate realms of consciousness. People like Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and Jackson C. Frank seem to be "beaming in" from some other world. Andrew takes you out there as well.