The Factory is the second E.P. from, Cleethorpes’ own, Rob Bywater (at least the second I’ve been asked to review, I really liked the first, in fact you can read it here), and it is clear that all the elements that made the first such a strong release have been emphasized on this second outing, creating a more progressive Rob Bywater sound.
Now the word “progressive” can often be construed as another way of saying “egotistical shit”, where an artist concentrates more on showing off musically than good song writing. Bywater does definitely fall into this category. The songs still maintain the simplistic elements of a strong folk record; open chords with occasional arpeggiated riffs. The progression in The Factory EP comes in the form of subtle confidence, not over indulgent cockiness, with Bywater sounding a lot more comfortable in pushing his vocal range to new levels, and doing so with much success.
On the whole, The Factory maintains the Billy Bragg-esque working class commentary that was common place on the Bywater’s first EP. With, opener and title track, ‘The Factory’ telling a modern day tale of redundancy, money struggles and upper class corruption. This is epitomized in the lyrics: “by the end we were a fraction of the men we were before,” and, “wealthy men’s incompetence bankrupt the working man,” which speaks to the people on the lower rungs with a brash honesty not seen in many years.
The point of interest in this four track record is,second track, ‘Brown Hair, Glasses and Big Blue Jeans’, a three-minute melody telling of a love interest met in the boozer. Tackling the subject of romance, even one that seems alcohol fueled, is a new approach for Bywater but one he pulls of quite graciously, maintaining a specific point of focus that reflects everyday life, instead of attempting to tackle love as a huge Disney-style concept and failing horribly like so many.
Rob Bywater remains one of the most honest singer-songwriters in the UK. and his small, yet no doubt loyal, following isn’t so much a mystery but more a testament to how little genuine talent is overlooked by commercial claptrap. We can only hope that this is just a phase before artists like this throw in the towel but, when songs are clearly done with as much love as this, I doubt they ever will.