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BLUESBREAKERS feature - Classic Rock Blues Magazine (June 2013)

   

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Andy Fleet – Takin’ Aim (12/9/13)

“A fine album for both night and day.”

Although he has been working for years on the road soon the second solo album from Andy Fleet will soon appear. This London pianist and singer-songwriter has played in several bands, travelled from piano to piano and taught music in England before he pleasantly surprised the world in 2009 with his debut The Night Falls Fast, a fiendishly personal album full of intense songs about his eventful life.

He also brings that personal character to the table on Takin' Aim where for example in the final track Brave Little Soldier he describes the night his baby son died. In opening up so explicity you can feel the pain crawl out of the speakers. Happily Fleet brings an air to a number of other songs, as in the ode to the port of Hamburg in The Beast and opener and single Who's Gonna Be Sorry where you find yourself on a carefree Southern European beach.

Musically Takin' Aim is highly elaborate and although the compositions are sweet here and hurtful there, the exciting combination of piano, bass, drums and trumpet make for a striking atmosphere which occasionally rubs along the way of jazz and blues.

The level of the ten songs remains high, with special mention of Tick All The Boxes with it’s languid rhythm, haunting melody and creeping trumpet. A fine album for both night and day.

Andy Fleet - TAKIN' AIM (4/9/13)

“A delicious and versatile album which will lift Andy Fleet to a higher stage.”

Andy Fleet is versatile. He was active as a music teacher, entertained in piano bars and has played in various bands. Solo, he has his own ideas hence Andy comes with his album Takin 'Aim. On the album, which is out through Cadiz Music/Bertus, are ten songs. All the numbers can be described as strong singer/songwriter songs that vary widely in content as Andy Fleet manages to rejoice the listener with songs that are both piano and guitar led.

What is striking about the songs is the narrative. Andy Fleet is a storyteller who knows the listener and Takin 'Aim takes you around the whole world from New Orleans in Who's Gonna Be Sorry to the ports of Hamburg in The Beast. This world is not only present in the text but also musically as the sound creates the atmosphere of the country. You can clearly hear Andy’s broad influences on Takin' Aim. It is a delicious and versatile album which will lift Andy Fleet to a higher stage.

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Andy Fleet - TAKIN' AIM - Album Review (19/9/13)

“Sultry…engrossing…dynamic…cinematic…you get dragged into a world of human vulnerability where the tears, soul and pain drip from your speakers.”

What a wonderful cool voice the London singer Andy Fleet lends to these tasteful songs. 'Of all trades' could have been the title on the cover of Takin' Aim. This is a good album. A great admirer of Joe Jackson, Allen Toussaint, Mose Allison, Donald Fagen, Randy Newman and John Lennon. These sounds are on the album where the musician, teacher, singer and storyteller clearly feels comfortable in the jazz, pop and blues styles.

Takin' Aim is the second album from the versatile musician and it makes me immediately curious as to his debut The Night Falls Fast which I have missed. Although Takin' Aim is colourful and sits within the boundaries, it doesn’t alter the fact that this is not an entirely pleasant album. On this new album Andy mixes smiles with tears, and uses both piano and guitar with some spicy drumming on Who's Gonna Be Sorry. The sound is enhanced regularly with trumpet, cello and electric guitar and the ten songs give us a glimpse into Fleet’s life.

It’s a pleasant and varied collection with the sultry opener Who's Gonna Be Sorry followed by the engrossing At The Bottom Of The Pool, the dynamic Get The Boys Around and the cinematic The Beast. The subsequent heart rending piano ballads Takin' Aim, Tender, James and Brave Little Soldier let you shed a great teardrop over the loss of Andy’s newborn born son James. You get dragged into a world of human vulnerability where the tears, soul and pain drip from your speakers. The knot in your stomach is more perceptible than ever on an album which Andy, as with his debut album in 2009, dedicated to his son.

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Indebanvan.nl - ANDY FLEET - TAKIN' AIM - Album Review (7/1/14)

Andy Fleet sees Donald Fagen as one of his influences and without doubt that has to lead to something special and indeed on Takin' Aim Andy Fleet has taken time to produce a very rich sound.

His debut The Night Falls Fast dates back to 2009 so Andy Fleet has made us wait for Takin' Aim, but it’s well worth the wait. The warm voice of Andy Fleet thrives in these thoughtful arrangements, sometimes orchestrated and slightly jazzy as in the feel good song Who's Gonna Be Sorry in which Andy Fleet is facing the unknown future with confidence.

Rich instrumentation is used on the album Takin' Aim, if we hear a tenor saxophone then it is necessary to bring about the right feeling for the song. Get The Boys Round contains the strongest Steely Dan references including a guitar solo that includes their signature. This appears before the magnificent Tender. There is a certain calm about this album.

The Beast contains that old Sunday morning feeling which is in fact contrary to the lyrics that call you to get out of bed and go unleash the beast within yourself. A nice contrast. On the title track Takin' Aim we again hear another sound, a nice loose pop melody that lightly references the Fine Young Cannibals. Also on James we hear this reference in the sound of the voice of Andy Fleet.

The only odd man out is the concluding Brave Little Soldier in which we hear a very angry Andy Fleet after all the love. Then we forgive him. Losing a child is the worst thing that can happen to you as a parent. A brave decision by Andy Fleet to also show this emotion.

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Andy Fleet - TAKIN' AIM (5/11/13)

“Beautifully constructed songs with warm, but never lavish arrangements…knows where to find beauty.”

The opener Who's Gonna Be Sorry has the rhythm and understated instrumentation with exuberant horns creating a blend of Steely Dan and Allen Toussaint. It’s a great song that gets you right into the mood for more. Remarkably the rest of Takin' Aim, Andy Fleet’s second album, is much quieter, often with piano as the main instrument as Fleet follows in a kind of ‘singer songwriter with band’ guise combining pop, rock, jazz and blues in beautifully constructed songs with warm, but never lavish arrangements.

He has a slightly hoarse voice that beautifully suits and is reminiscent of the American example art rocker Phideaux (for example in Tender). Sometimes he even has something similar to Leonard Cohen. However it's not just piano and voice as guitar, drums and horns are alternately brought into the limelight and then at exactly at the right time Alpha Female appears; a nice cheerful jazzy tune with brushstroke drums and a fine trumpet solo.

The finale Brave Little Soldier is heartbreaking as it’s about Fleet’s son (previously sung in James ) who died almost immediately after his birth. A fitting conclusion to an emotional album that explores no new paths but knows where to find beauty.

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Andy Fleet - TAKIN' AIM (1/9/13)

“A powerful album.”

On his second album Takin' Aim, Andy Fleet and his band consisting of trumpeter Andre Canniere, bassist Rob Rickenberg and drummer Joe Evans, show different sides of themselves.

The album opens with the catchy song and first single Who's Gonna Be Sorry, a song with a good beat and trumpet part where you can not sit still. The second song At The Bottom Of The Pool makes a melancholy sound and it’s already clear this album does not only consist of swinging blues numbers. Sensitive piano pieces like Tender and the title track Takin' Aim provide a variety with more upbeat songs like Get The Boys Round and Alpha Female.

As well as a singer and musician, Andy is a storyteller. Who's Gonna Be Sorry is about a relationship that breaks up through the abuse of alcohol. In Get The Boys Round Fleet sings of deep male friendship and The Beast is a tribute to the port of Hamburg, where the singer was while writing this album and what is known as "the gateway to the world."

The most impressive and personal story Andy Fleet keeps for the final number Brave Little Soldier, in which he sings about the night his son James died. The song begins with funeral bells and lingers in your memory…and rightly so. Andy Fleet has dedicated the entire album to his son James (Jimbob).

Still Takin' Aim remains an album that is suitable for easy listening. The strength lies in the alternation of joy, love, pain and sorrow. Takin' Aim is a powerful album that scores on both lyrics and music and despite the occasional violent content, Fleet stays true to himself as a musician and delivers another strong collection of songs with a pleasant jazz, blues and rock sound. An album he and his son can be proud of.

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TAKIN' AIM - Short album review - APPLY SOME PRESSURE.com (Amsterdam) (11/8/13)

"We love the new Andy Fleet record 'Takin' Aim'. Folk, blues, rock, jazz...it's all there."

So, we found this record on our doormat. It’s the new Andy Fleet CD, as you all can see. The London singer/songwriter blends rock, blues, folk & jazz into a rich bittersweet sound and takes his influences from Tom Waits, Allen Toussaint, Joe Jackson, Randy Newman, John Lennon, Donald Fagen, John Martyn, Richard Thompson and Lindsey Buckingham.

It works out beautifully, just listen to excellent tracks like The Beast, Tender, Who’s Gonna Be Sorry and Tick All The Boxes.

File under BIG TIP.

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TAKIN' AIM Album Review - Pennyblack Music Magazine (18/7/13) www.pennyblackmusic.co.uk

"Emotively powerful second album from this London-based singer-songwriter."

London-based Andy Fleet follows up his 2009 debut ‘The Night Falls Fast’ with a set of ten original songs, upon which all the music has been composed by Fleet but six of the songs have been completed with other lyricists.

A couple of Fleet’s admitted influences are immediately recognisable; the brace of opening songs both show Fleet’s obvious appreciation of the music of Tom Waits and Donald Fagen. The New Orleans feel of ‘Who’s Gonna Be Sorry’, complete with horns supplied by Andre Canniere, immediately (and oh so wrongly it transpires) has the listener thinking that here’s another competent sweet-voiced troubadour pedaling the perfect soundtrack to a lazy summer afternoon. The following song, ‘At the Bottom of the Pool’, with its muted horns adding atmosphere in the distance, is where Fleet shows his, admittedly more accessible, Tom Waits influence. It’s where Fleet makes a more than acceptable stab at being the Tom Waits anyone can like, not just those who like their singers to gargle with whiskey-soaked pebbles.

By track three, ‘Get The Boys Round’ Fleet shows that he can also play the pop game with the best of them. It’s an intelligent radio-friendly pop-rock track with uplifting guitar from Nick McNulty, and shows that, while Fleet’s heart lies solidly in a jazz/blues hybrid, he can turn his hand quite successfully to adult pop music too. It is a fact born out by ‘Tender’ as well. Fleet’s breathy vocals are well suited to this ballad. While not a singer who has a particularly distinctive voice, Fleet’s vocals do get under your skin quite quickly.

‘The Beast’ with those distant horns adding much to the atmosphere, is an ode to the Port Of Hamburg. It’s on this song where Fleet pulls it all together, his, at times, almost whispered vocals adding a menacing feel to the story as the music builds; it’s one of those songs where you are taken right into the artist’s world, where he places you in directly in the picture and it has a chilling effect.

‘Alpha Female’ and ‘Tick All The Boxes’ both display Fleet’s jazz influences and both are excellent pieces of music, superbly sung and performed and displaying again just how much trumpeter Andre Canniere adds to Fleet’s cinematic sound.

While most of us can’t even begin to understand how Fleet and his wife, Emma, feel after losing their first-born son James (the track on Fleet’s debut album, ’54 Candles’, depicted the devastating experience) Fleet has composed a further two songs in his son’s memory, which quite frankly, leave the other songs on ‘Takin’ Aim’, as solid and brilliant as they are, in the shade.

The short, piano-led ballad ‘James’ with its lone brass features a stunning vocal performance from Fleet. His voice, although showing obvious and expected emotion, never shows signs of faltering once; some achievement. The same can be said about the closing song, ‘Brave Little Soldier’. It’s doubtful if any other song has captured pain, loss and eventual anger so powerfully as Fleet does here. While not for a second suggesting that we can feel even a fraction of what Fleet went and is going through, his words and the power of the music make the listener feel at least a part of his pain. It’s a remarkable and powerful way to end the album and one that, given the last verse of ‘Brave Little Soldier’, will stay with you for a long time.

Andy Fleet has made an album of songs that will make you smile, feel good and ultimately cause you to shed a tear or two. It’s all there, what else do you need?

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TAKIN' AIM Album Review - FATEA Magazine (1/6/13)

"A song book album with a heartwrenching and bitter finale."

It's been four years since Andy Fleet released his debut cut, "The Night Falls Fast", but he's not exactly been slacking in the intervening years. As well as working and gigging in other peoples bands, he set about refining his sound and recruiting the musicians to make that possible, settling on the bass and drums of Rob Rickenberg and Joe Evans respectively, combined with his own, vocals and piano and the trumpet of American musician, Andre Canniere.

Like a lot of songbook albums, and "Takin' Aim" is definitely a songbook album, it doesn't rely on a genre, rather an atmosphere, a mood that brings in what it needs from many related genres, as and when required, sharing a pattern established by the likes of Allen Toussaint, Mose Allison and Leonard Cohen. The time spent ensuring that he had the right musicians to support his songs and ideas was time well spent. As you move through the album you really get to understand the trust the core musicians have in each other and that's not just the lead instrumentation of piano and trumpet, it's as much the contribution that comes from the rhythm section to boot.

This is an album of songs, the sort of songs that could be performed on a stage lit by a single light bulb and that would be the only illumination they would need because they really shine on their own and hold your attention, be it one of the more sultry, jazzy numbers, such as "Alpha Female" or heart wrenching and bitter like the sign off track, "Brave Little Soldier".

"Takin' Aim" is well worthy of the songbook tag. It's a great collection of songs eloquently performed. Andy Fleet has an album that will transport you away from the mundane.

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TAKIN' AIM Album Review - Blues Rock Review (28/5/13)

"Andy Fleet is an artist you will want to leave on repeat. 9/10."

Takin’ Aim is the follow up album of London’s own Andy Fleet’s first album, The Night Falls Fast (2009). Recorded in 2012, Fleet is accompanied by trumpeter Andre Canniere, bassist Rob Rickenberg, and drummer Joe Evans. This album has a New Orleans sound, thanks to the horns. It’s sound is a mix of blues, rock, and even jazz.

Takin’ Aim begins with “Who’s Gonna Be Sorry,” a story of a relationship gone wrong, due to alcohol. The piece is accompanied with horns. It is an attention grabbing song that leaves you wanting to hear more. “Get The Boys Round,” a story of unconditional friendship, brings the feeling of the album a little more upbeat. Again, the horns are a key part in this song. A guitar riff solo catches you off guard, in a good way. “The Beast” is a sultry song. Sounds of rain and thunder accompany the piano and rhythm section of the bass and drums. The horns become the sultry aspect. The song describes Fleet’s experiences during a visit to the Port of Hamburg (A port in Germany named the “Gateway to the World.”) The album’s title track “Takin’ Aim” has a cheerful bounce to it, reminding us that “we’re all just killing time and guilty of the same crime.” “James” and “Brave Little Soldier” are tributes to Andy Fleet’s late son.

Andy Fleet is an artist you will want to leave on repeat. Primarily a pianist, his band brings a classical heavy feel to the album. This is one artist to follow and keep an eye on. The album debuts on June 10th on the Low Vinyl label.

The Review: 9/10

Can’t Miss Tracks - Takin’ Aim - Who’s Gonna Be Sorry - The Beast - James
The Big Hit - Who’s Gonna Be Sorry.

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TAKIN' AIM Album Review - Songs Only Blog (6/11/13)

Andy Fleet is a British singer songwriter who makes music in the style of Donald Fagan, Randy Newman and Rufus Wainwright, nice quiet songs with an occasional a jazzy touch. Each song is a story in itself and Andy certainly has something to say, as in the moving story about the night his son died before his eyes. The last song Brave Little Soldier on his new CD Takin' Aim is about that evening.

On this his second CD, Fleet has created a very personal, pleasant and varied album where the music teacher, songwriter, pianist and storyteller blends rock, blues, folk and jazz decorated with horns, cello and electric guitar.

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TAKIN' AIM Album Review - Rootstime Magazine (1/5/13)

Andy Fleet is primarily a pianist and creates his songs behind the black and white keys of his favorite instrument. His musical examples here are Randy Newman, Tom Waits, Donald Fagen and Allen Toussaint and his style choice of songs leans toward jazz and blues.
In 2009 he released his debut album The Night Falls Fast and Takin' Aim is the successor. In addition to the piano and rhythm section of bass and drums we hear trumpet, flugelhorn and trombone, as well as cello and electric and acoustic guitars, played mainly by three permanent members Andre Canniere, Rob Rickenberg and Joe Evans with some guest musicians.

The opening track Who's Gonna Be Sorry is about relationship problems and finding the wrong solution in alcohol. In Get The Boys Round, which was already present in a different version on his debut album, Andy sings about unconditional friendship and in The Beast he describes his observations and experiences during a visit to the port of Hamburg. The album title track Takin 'Aim is an uptempo song which showcases Andy’s singing talents and the jazzy Tick All The Boxes gets our approval. But it’s the memorial and tribute songs James and Brave Little Soldier for his late son that form the most haunting highlights on this excellent album.