Robbie Thompson is one fifth of up and coming Yorkshire based The Buffalo Skinners. He is the tender hearted voice on their records, you know the one? The voice that’s on the verge of breaking, of cracking and disappearing in a choke and a deluge of tears. It is also the voice that chimes with you the most, the one that reminds you of the girl you dated at college, the one that you saw across the room with her tongue down your mates throat, and you remember straight away how hurt you were. Robbie Thompson’s voice is painful, not because its bad, it is the opposite, its really beautiful, but it communicates pain and as you listen you feel it, deep inside.
I sort of know Robbie. I have got to know him over this Summer, I have played on bills with his band, been at festivals with him. Smiling quietly at you from behind his glasses he is quiet, unassuming and really, really sweet. The sort of sweet that makes your Girlfriend want to hug him and immediately give you a look that says “Why are you not this sensitive?”. But underneath all of this there is an inner steel to him, a inner Robbie capable of taking the hard knocks, maybe even shaped by them. I learnt recently he was a good boxer, that he came from a Sheffield boxing family, and maybe the self-control and determination you need to put yourself in front of someone else’s gloves colours his music, maybe even his personality. Despite or maybe because of this his Debut solo EP “Young Renton’s Blues” is stunning.
I don’t want to give you,the reader, a blow by blow account of Robbie’s EP, I don’t want to influence any of you. I don’t need to sell this record to you, but you should buy it. I am already one of the lucky ones, I have heard it and it lives within me now. You should go there straight away and listen for yourself.
What I can tell you about it is this, since I first heard it 24 hours ago I have not been able to shake the memory of it. The track “The Last Romantic in Town” especially so. One line in particular keeps rolling over and over in my head, “a raindrop gently winds down a taxi window like a tear of the night” expressing the pain of breaking up so succinctly that I can feel the pain in my own chest. The girl driving away in the taxi, the boy on the pavement in the rain. Both of them sorry, both knowing it had to happen.
“Alice”, ” Young Renton’s Blues” and “As the Moonlight falls on the Old Canal” are equally well drawn tales of relationship struggles, the unfathomable depths of your partners feelings and the general puzzle we all have with life.
That’s where Robbie is so good, his voice understated and ably augmented by the violin of James Nicholls (who also produced the EP), the simple stripped down arrangements letting the story unwind, grabbing your attention, drawing you in and holding you in that moment. I must acknowledge I have always been a sucker for melancholy and thus I am forever hooked.
“Young Renton’s Blues” is available through Bandcamp on a pay what you want basis. Its the bargain of the century, you should rush there and download immediately and be grateful. Say thank you to Robbie Thompson.
Marc Griffiths is a musician & co-founder of Screamin’ Miss Jackson & The Slap Ya’ Mama Big Band