The Squire of Somerton’s Transverberations, and why you should get it

This article was originally published on Squawk The Talk. You should go check it out.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you definitely haven’t heard of The Squire of Somerton before. That’s a real shame, because that means you’ve missed out on the perfect soundtrack to lazy afternoons until now.

The Squire, more commonly known as Toby Jenkins, has played with Fort Lauderdale, Higamos Hogamus and Zan Pan. In 2003 he produced a solo album called Transverberations and it was woefully lost amidst the ohmyGodTheStrokesaresoamazing indie splurge of the early noughties. This was back before we’d managed to smother Liberty X and the same year good ol’ Fiddy was schilling Bacardi on his way to Liquid and Envy. Do you ever think we missed some opportunities as a society?

Transverberations, however, is a glorious psychadelic dream. It’s fine baroque pop with harmonies and interweaving melodies that rank with the best of them. More than that though, it’s a hazy trip which visits funk, shred, Doors-esque rock and cheeky sampling. It’s roots are firmly in the 60s, but the little flourishes, the leaps into more contemporary styles, make it charmingly unpredictable. At the first listen it washes over you, joyfully overloading the senses. All the other details I mention reveal themselves later.

In his own words, ‘The music seems to be like a diary for me. When I was working on Transverberations, during two beautiful summers in Somerset, I met an amazing lady. We would take some whisky and cola and cycle through the Somerset levels between West Pennard and Glastonbury, stopping in sun-drenched orange and purple fields along the way. Those were some of the most magical and romantic moments of my life.’

Made over the course of two years, it really was a labour of love. Much like Tom Scholz with Boston’s debut album, bedroom-folk mastermind Adem and others, Jenkins played nearly every single note on the album himself. Necessity is the mother of invention, after all.

His voice is reminiscent of Devendra Banhart, another one who was dropped in the cauldron of psych when he was a baby, and he shares a similarly irreverent and satirical take in his lyrics. Whilst Devendra is more prone to delicate folk-influenced numbers they both have that quivering voice, tongue-in-cheek falsettos, heavy with tremolo and a whimsical delicacy.

He’s also a prodigiously talented guitarist who has a style that sits somewhere between Cream-era Clapton, Funkadelic and even touches of Steve Vai (only touches mind, this isn’t fret-wanking). Have a listen to Pumping Iron to get what I mean. Apparently he generally turned down the virtuoso thing for Fort Lauderdale, incidentally. Listening to Transverberations I can’t help but get the impression that he’s not trying that hard and that somewhere out there is an untested genius.

The album is still available on CD from Amazon, to download from LastFM and to stream on Spotify.