Saturday, 17 February 2018

Shoe Music 8

Andy Sheppard Quartet - Romaria, album review

Peacefully Panoramic

Seeing Andy Sheppard and band in Bristol play much from this album certainly prompted keen anticipation for its release, and hearing opening track And a Day immediately rekindled the experience of mellowing to its atmospheric tone and pace, Elivind Aarset’s guitar soundscapes emerging in wafts of soft to fuller sounds over which Sheppard plays his characteristic breathy melodies. This is echoed in following track Thirteen, Seb Rochford's still muted drumming setting a processional beat, and here Sheppard playing with more distinct and crisp notes on the rise and fall of a simple but pretty melodic line. Aarset continues the ebb and flow of the guitar’s electronic pulsing, Michael Benita bringing the bass runs more to the fore. It is a beautiful, calming start. The third and title track introduces a wider palette both in terms of pace and all the instruments increasing in complexity, Sheppard’s soprano sax here dancing delightfully. Next Pop is another sweet melody, Aarset strumming chords and accompanying the melodic line so stepping out of the panoramic platforming of earlier. I do like the riff in sixth With Every Flower that Falls. For more energetic – a relative term – sax runs, penultimate All Becomes Again provides these, the tenor-dips into lower notes punctuating these with their gusto bursts. Closer Forever returns to the opening reflective style, though more expansive in the sax runs, and it rounds off a whole that is a peacefully caressing sound from a sublime quartet.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

My Funny Valentine

Behold the way our fine feathered friend,
His virtue doth parade
Thou knowest not, my dim-witted friend
The picture thou hast made
Thy vacant brow, and thy tousled hair
Conceal thy good intent
Thou noble upright truthful sincere,
And slightly dopey gent

You're my funny valentine,
Sweet comic valentine,
You make me smile with my heart.
Your looks are laughable, un-photographable,
Yet, you're my favorite work of art.

Is your figure less than Greek?
Is your mouth a little weak?
When you open it to speak, are you smart?
But, don't change a hair for me.
Not if you care for me.
Stay little valentine, stay!
Each day is Valentine's Day

Is your figure less than Greek?
Is your mouth a little weak?
When you open it to speak, are you smart?
But, don't change a hair for me.
Not if you care for me.
Stay little valentine, stay!
Each day is Valentine's Day

Songwriters: Lorenz Hart / Richard Rodgers

My Funny Valentine lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Imagem Music Inc

Fruit Music

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Joan as Police Woman - Damned Devotion, album review

Just Listen

Joan Wasser’s latest album reminds me of her first Real Life, with opener Wonderful back to the focus on her vocal, delicately sultry in its inherent clarity and strength [so I mean not thrust forward] and accompanied by sweetly supporting harmony, so this reminds me of The Ride off that first release. All she has done in between is excellent, but there have been shifts and dancings with more emphasis on production and a broadening out from just her singing, so I like this ‘return’ to what I like particularly. Second track Warning Bell is another in this full circle, so to speak. Beautiful again. Third Tell Me ups the tempo just a little, pop-taunts in the echoing what what what do you mean line, but those overdubbed harmonies are a joy again. Fourth Steed moves into an R&B with sax tangent, but this is fine too because it is good. Fifth Damned Devotion focuses back on the solo vocal and attendant harmonies. Lovely album. Just listen to Valid Jagger.

More Some Awe reviews of Joan as Police Woman here.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Eye Music 21

Richmond Fontaine - Don't Skip Out On Me, album review

Wordless but Wonderful

This is most of what we might reasonably expect and welcome from a post-Richmond Fontaine Richmond Fontaine, the band having disbanded but briefly reconvened for this instrumental, so that is what is missing: the lyrics and the singing.

Otherwise it is a collection of mainly and most welcoming pedal steel plaintive – the lyricism of melody describing as best it can in a wordless soundscape the landscape of Willy Vlautin’s latest novel. So, titles like Horace Hopper and Victor Gets on the Bus tell us it is a soundtrack, the first delivered in the pedal steel and the second in a fleeting acoustic guitar calm. Third Dream of the City and the City Itself is, as title, a piece of language that is signature Vlautin, then its opening melody is all Country hoedown until the song breaks into the most beautiful other signature, a lamenting minor key descend with, yes, pedal steel. Fourth Living Where You’re Not Wanted is again initially the language of Vlautin’s embrace of people’s alienation and its prompt to escape in search of something better – rarely achieved though there will be moments of human kindness experienced along the way – and this is embraced in instrumental performance by a cowboy camp-fire harmonica lead, with more like this later on, for example penultimate We Are Cattlemen [aptly] that segues prettily if hauntingly into closer Back of the Pickup.

Can’t wait to read the novel.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Fire! - The Hands, album review

R Music


Mats Gustafsson, Johan Berthling and Andreas Werliin 

Hands Music 36

Friday, 26 January 2018

Black Label Society - Grimmest Hits, album review

Hot Stew and Limoncello

I do like this for its pulverising persistence and occasional Zakk Wylde ballad where prettiness is not by contrast and carried on such macho beauty. There are plenty of Sabbath/Ozzy echoes in the vocal and the riffs [check out the pulsing strut on Bury Your Sorrow], and this is no surprise considering their working together, that’s Wylde and Osbourne, and Wylde’s tribute band Zakk Sabbath. But Black Label Society is distinctive enough, and beyond its heavy metal tropes, with scorching guitar solos and effects to modernise. All That Once Shined is grunged to much heavy sweetness and this leads in to the first blackened croon of ballad The Only Words which then leads to the Room of Nightmares where heaviness reasserts itself. Just another note on the other ballad The Day That Heaven Had Gone Away – like the guitar work and vocal harmonies here. The whole album is like a basic but hotly spiced stew with limoncello aperitif breaks.