4 Stars out of 5 

The debut album from Guildford area five-piece The True Deceivers sees a band that emerged from the ashes of country rockers The Blazing Homesteads staking their claim for recognition amongst the current swathe of Americana-influenced acts. What sets The True Deceivers apart is the classic song writing of front man and guitarist Nick Bliss, that seems to owe as much to the work of Richard Thompson as it does to that of Steve Earle. 

They’re at their most lethal on the stabbed-Strat, melody–sodden ‘Comfort Zone’ and the perfectly balanced ‘Writing On The Wall’ where a hook line, harmonies and Mark Mitchell’s fiddle work combine to glorious effect. Full marks, too, for the ingenuity in tackling Green Day’s ‘Time Of Your Life’, which they reclothe in poignant country garb, coloured by banjo and fiddle, whilst their influence is worn on their sleeves with a sparkling reworking of Steve Earle’s ‘Galway Girl’.

A thoroughly agreeable debut that occasionally displays a little hesitancy, something we can probably put down to first-album nerves.

Steve Caseman


Lies that turn out to be truly great

From the first thump of the drums closely followed by the opening chords of Close Enough For Jazz, you know you're in for a treat with The True Deceiver's debut album.

The rootsy folk-rock band, who hail from around Guildford and Godalming have put down 13 tracks for Lies We Have Told, released on A New Day Records.

Singer and guitarist Graham Firth said, "We are very pleased with the recording. we did it over a period of about two and a half months at weekends and evenings at Garden Studios in Sutton Green."

The all-digital recording certainly sounds slick - but the band's trademark live sound, that's always full of power and spark, is very much in evidence too.

Eleven of the tracks are the band's own songs, with guitarist Nick Bliss contributing to the majority but with input from both Graham and fiddle player Mark Mitchell, as well.

Live favourites such as Comfort Zone and Pushing Water Uphill (the song the band usually open gigs with) are here along with Your Own Sweet Way and the quite beautiful Unsung Heroine.

The two cover tracks are Green Day's Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) and Steve Earle's The Galway Girl. The former is an interesting take on a well known song, in so much as it features some cool banjo playing, plus some great vocals. The Galway Girl is a True Deceiver's live favourite and they have recorded it with great aplomb. The band invited Steven Gara to guest on this track and he plays a mean tin whistle. Steven also contributes some lilting uilleann pipes on Unsung Heroine.

The band produced the album themselves along with the owner of Garden Studios, Nev Dean. Graham added: "When we began recording, Nev said he could either just be the recording engineer or, if we wished, add some more input. We thought it would be a good idea to have someone else's opinion, and although sometimes his ideas were different from ours, in the main we worked well together."

Lies We Have Told (the title is taken from a line in Valentines and Flowers on the CD) is available from the band at gigs. It costs £10. It can also be bought via their website, log on to www.thetruedeceivers.com


If you needed proof that roots music is alive and well in 21st Century Britain, here's a fine example - courtsey of South-East live favourites The True Deceivers.

Two decades after Billy Bragg, The Pogues and The Men They Couldn't Hang turned a new generation on to traditions earlier translated by the likes of Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, we have a folk music from the next generation - with a nod to America and Ireland but with plenty of modern-day England shining through.

The Lies We Have Told sleeve promises 'a powerful elixir prepared from pure rattlesnake oil'. And there's certainly an element of that 'liniment for the cure of pain and boredom' from these modern day folk doctors.

From the moment lead vocalist Graham Firth launches into opener 'Close Enough for Jazz' we are let into a somewhat up close and personal diary of songs - most penned by band mainstay Nick Bliss.

And while Firth's tones fall on the folk side of the rock 'n' roll line, he's perhaps more stripped down than ever before and all the stronger for it, with suitably intimate backing from fellow songwriters Bliss and Mark Mitchell.

Add to that mix strong harmonies, guitars, fiddle, mandolin and banjo a dependable, honest support from rhythm duo Dee Coley and Jamie Legg and you understand something of the liquid essence upon which the band were baptised.

Not for The True Deceivers the more histrionic approach of the mainstream, theirs is more a reflective approach to songwriting. And even the closing walk through Steve Earle's classic 'Galway Girl' is somewhat understated, the vocals aptly supplied by the rather gruff Mitchell. It works too, and you get the idea that now a few poetic burdens have been off-loaded the party is about to start.

While Lies We Have Told will perhaps never be a huge seller, you can learn the set then sing along when the festival season kick in - that open-air feel nicely showcased on Firth's 'Big Sky' or the banjo-accompanied cover of the Green Day standard 'Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)'. It's more Cropredy than California, yet all the more thought-provoking for it.

'Potential's one of many things I never realised' we learn on 'Unsung Heroine' and there's more than a hint of truth laid bare here by a band with a frankly ill-conceived moniker. 'Honest Johns' might have been a more fitting name.

In 'Comfort Zone' we have a hint of a harder edge and just how good The True Deceivers can be, although 'under-stated' remains a core quality throughout. The songs are definitely there, and the band's next offering might just be the one to make the unconverted sit up and take notice.


"Lies We Have Told leads you into a feeling of late night listening until it has you jigging round the room. One for all moods. A great all rounder".


Like all Deceiver fans, I’d waited a long time for this! Finally the waiting was over and my copy of “Lies We Have Told” arrived at my door. I felt like Charlie Bucket with a Wonka Bar! 

Having known several members of the band for many years, Dee and Jamie from Eat The Sofa and Graham from nearly the beginning of time, I was curious to see how one of my favourite bands would make the transition from playing live and onto CD.  

Of course, the Deceivers would hit the right notes with me on a musical level, as I knew I would get country/folk/rock tunes with lashings of fiddle and a smattering of Mandolin. I expected tones of Steve Earle, The Dirt Band, The Levellers and The Saw Doctors and I wasn’t disappointed. 

Lies We Have Told immediately found that place within me that remembers just why it is I love music so much. The album cover reminded me of Steve Earle’s “Snake Oil” from the Copperhead Road album. The song tells of Traveling minstrels selling snake oil as a tonic to cure all woes.  

Well the first three tracks certainly proved to be a tonic for the soul, easing me away from the daily grind with Jamie’s snare drum introducing Close Enough For Jazz. …”You can chase your dreams and I will live with reality”…. oozing maturity, suggesting unity, and emitting a feeling that you have set down the right path on your journey with trusted companions. It’s a lovely day and what’s that in the air….Oooh er.. Nice pipes missus! It’s an Unsung Heroine bleating like a spring lamb…a great little tune woven from Nick Bliss fabric and fitting Graham perfectly…its sweet patient intro laced with natural harmonies… leading us onwards to heaven I think… albeit as a “one-eyed man in the country of the blind”…Oh…what a strange place that would be! … But I’m told Heaven Is A Strange Place.  

Well… how true that is! Now we are cooking! A song to take you back to the golden “One too many” moments of the past, and you now know you are onto a winner… I actually poured myself another beer after this one and stared up at that Big Sky, watching the clouds go by on my ceiling, tapping along with the wonderfully familiar rhythm section, where am I? Oh… Under a big sky man! Look at those rain clouds… better get the canoe out else we’ll be Pushing Water Uphill! Actually this is not as difficult as one might imagine, and relatively easy if you have a good pump, a creative imagination and a bunch of decent musicians! This one grows on me each time I get splashed by it! Leaving me moaning like the fiddle in the Cold Light Of Day. A great tune except that when you “scratch beneath the surface and find…” there is unfortunately no mandolin there! Where were Mandy and Linda? Well, I would have stuck them in the song, coz they look pretty and never do any harm to anyone! It’s these opportunities that can bring you out of your Comfort Zone… and when they do, they usually take you to a new level of understanding! Aaagh… here we go again boys! Cracking stuff! This actually sounds better than the live version! Superb bass which is challenging the Violin to keep up… and Mark does keep it up!!! 

Good Riddance to dirty innuendo’s here because it is time for the Time Of Your Life….A surprising time of your life too… I’d not heard it played like this before and had considered to leave the room for a refill. Well… a pleasant surprise it was! The song has been transformed from a set filler to a Deceiver classic! The banjo works a treat and I especially like the Bass,  giving it a jolly step! And Graham’s performance… well… He has put his Writing On The Wall! And when Graham writes on the wall it would have to be bold and a blooming big wall no doubt!…  and this ditty reminds me of The Levellers, long festival weekends and His Wooden Fish! Jamie’s fills are ace and the only thing I would prefer is the fiddle to lose some of the echo. Perhaps Mark was stuck in the stairway with his Valentines and Flowers? What a lovely ditty written from Mark’s heart and sung empathically by Graham. A song to disturb old memories, make you order a chaser and wish you could dance with your first love just once more! Only to realize you have been Down This Way Before! …and Just as I had been happy to wallow in the Ghosts of Christmas Pasts… I realize… hey… yes… I have actually been down this way before… it’s a classic shake you out of your shit song! Now I’m up and at ‘em, drinks all round… what’s that… my favourite beer on tap! 49er for me lads…same again boys? Or are you going Your Own Sweet Way? Blow me cockles it’s Bliss and Firth in Wintery mood…. And I can’t shake this Metalica vibe… I’m confused! … "I’ve had enough of Rain, I wish that it would snow, If winter’s coming in again… I think that we should know"… know what? So we can stay inside the pub and we can all sing and dance to The Galway Girl… aaghh… yes please Barman…. Fill her up… That’s better… oh to be sure, to be sure… a little jig… everyone likes the Irish… and why am I suddenly singing along with an Irish accent? With Mark doing his Huh Huh… amongst whistles and mandolins with the clog dancers looking on to be sure….  

The True Deceivers have arrived! I like what I hear and they’ve reproduced the live sound very well, infact refined it. It’s certainly more than just a solid debut album. Five gifted and finely tuned matured musicians, no bullshit, loads of good songs, and many a good night to be remembered and to be had again. A good feeling in the gut that there is a lot more to come too. 

It’s a wide and open highway with new journeys to be made, songs to be sung and dreams to dream! In my mind they may go one of two ways; either utilizing a more acoustic dynamic (I thought the fiddle sounded a little electric but loved the Banjo, the pipes and the mandolin) or becoming a bit grittier, letting their hair down! Or…In fact, why not go both ways?




Born from the ashes of cult Guildford band The Blazing Homesteads, folk-rockers the True Deceivers will launch their debut album Lies We Have Told at Weyfest in Tilford next month. 

The 13 track CD, Lies We Have Told, features 11 of the Waterboys and Tom Petty-influenced group’s original songs as well as two covers, including the Green Day classic, Time Of Your Life. 

Made up of Nick Bliss, Mark Mitchell, Graham Firth, Dee Coley and Jamie Legg, the group has somehow found time to record the album in the middle of a hectic festival schedule. 

Singer and acoustic guitarist Graham has been with the band since their inception two years ago and is hoping the album will push the band into the limelight. “It’s a mixture of lively folk roots and rock with some more mellow numbers thrown in there as well,” he said. “It sounds great. I think we spent more time on this album than any of us ever have on anything we’ve recorded in the past. It’s been a lot of hard work and a lot of hours in the studio. We recorded it over a period of about 3 months with more than 100 hours spent in the studio”. 

With the True Deceivers already having a loyal following throughout the Guildford area, Graham is hoping the album will bring the band’s unique sound to the attention of a whole new fanbase. “We’re hoping the album will open a few more doors for us. We’re really well supported locally and that’s great but it would be nice to get ourselves out to a wider audience. The album is being distributed by A New Day Records and should be available on Amazon and in the big record stores”. 

Before their demise two years ago The Blazing Homesteads, which included Nick, Mark and Dee, had the distinction of being the only band to appear at every Guilfest.  Graham said the True Deceivers have no problem taking up the mantle of impressing outdoor crowds. “We’ve been playing a lot of festivals and it’s nice to get to other places and having different people see us play. At the Peterborough Festival, there were more than 1,500 people watching us and everyone was up and dancing, which was great to see. We have a very different sound from the Blazing Homesteads so we decided to start from scratch. We don’t play any of their songs. They were a lot more country than we were and we all wanted a fresh start anyway. We’re all pretty much into the same sort of music so there aren’t too many arguments about how we should sound”. 

Lies We Have Told will be launched at Weyfest at The Rural Life Centre in Tilford on September 1 and will be available online at www.anewdayrecords.co.uk

For more information on True Deceivers check out www.myspace.com/truedeceivers.