If January really is the month of abstinence, nobody told Manchester- based singer-songwriter Irma Vep, whose real name is Edwin Stevens.He is like the perennial outsider. Booze, pills and fried introspection are seemingly all over his new album No Handshake Blues– well, at least it sounds that way, in terms of artistic influence.
Opener A Woman’s Work is Never Done comes on like Neil Young at his most grizzled, with a face-melting guitar of epic proportions, and the psychedelic tone continues into the instrumental title track, with Vep’s extraordinary bluesy guitar playing front and centre. But it’s the self-explanatory The Moaning Song which feels like it could implode, an eerie droning howl in the wilderness.You Know I’ve Been Ill swaggers like a queasy sea shanty, with Vep’s trippy distorted vocals rendering him slightly otherwordly.
I Want To Be Degraded and Hey You take an altogether softer approach- the former, not out of place on the third Velvet Underground album in its stately lovely grace; the latter, a sweet heartfelt ballad undercut by scattered applause.
So, pass the Alka-Seltzer, lie down for a bit, and immerse yourself in these scuzzy, often beautiful songs- Vep isn’t one to do things lightly, but he’s worth overindulging with. Besides, there’s always February to dry out, after all.
Released January 13th via Faux Discx and Comfortable On A Rope