The River Detectives were Sam Corry and Dan O’Neill, a songwriting duo from Motherwell in Scotland who played together from 1985 to 2009. The pair shared lead vocal duties, with Corry playing guitar and O’Neill the drums.

Their heels were firmly in the mud of classic rock, but their instincts wereto write pop songs - with a splash of an Oasis B-side here, a dash of late-period Prefab Sprout there, a sprinkle of Elvis Costello and then a quick squeeze of Squeeze. The end-effect of 'King of the Ghost Train Ride', their 2005 third and final album, is a pleasant collection, which reminds me a bit of 80's stalwarts Deacon Blue.

While it wouldn’t be wrong to say that this album was largely based around the sounds of the past, or to say that the songwriting breaks no new ground, any doubts are won over by the band’s good taste and charm.

I have to confess that when I played this album for the first time, I was beginning to write it off as a bit dated after a few tracks. The jaunty ‘Blue Collar Love Song’ convinced me that I’d been a bit unfair, as its catchy blend of country-blues and Springsteen stadium rock had my girlfriend and I nodding along nicely. Its followed up by another strong track, ‘I Love Your Love’, which politely borrows the chords from Jackson Browne’s ‘These Days’.

Devotees of art-rock need not bother themselves with the River Detectives. These songs are defiantly uncool, and if the lyrics are not especially insightful, the instrumentation is always carefully chosen, meaning the songs far outclass the typical pub-rock fare. For example, the title track - a gentle acoustic ditty - benefits from a backing of stand-up bass, mandolin and fiddle while ‘Capetown to Glasgow’ is part-folk and part 60's-pop.

Warm and fuzzy, the album’s best track, ‘Some Kind of Love’ sounded like ideal background music for the happy ending to a gritty Northern drama. An entertaining listen.













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