image‘Robin Hood Waiter Champion Have-Not’ sees ex-Shield Your Eyes and Meet Me In St. Louis man Toby Hayes take Shoes and Socks Off away from ‘project’ tag and into ‘proper band’ territory with his first full release, and it’s a chin scratcher in the best way possible.

If you’re new to SASO, it’s a bit like experiencing a train of thought set to music – largely crafted over only acoustic guitar, but occasionally on the new record, violins and further instrumentation.

Toby’s acoustic material has always been lyrically dark and musically downtempo, and perhaps that alone is perhaps off-putting for some casual listeners – but to feel like you’re listening to a man bearing his soul honestly and without pretence is a rare and interesting thing.

Opener ‘spit/shake’ is probably the strongest of the collection, but as with many top drawer records, it’s best listened to as a whole – This is a release that makes you feel like you’re being lured down a rabbit hole, and for the way it’s got a way of grabbing you and refuses to let you go until it’s done is itself alone worth thoroughly recommending this to anyone.