Sunday, 9 May 2010

Adult Contemporary Essentials 25.04.10

The Tallest Man On Earth
The Wild Hunt
Dead oceans
Sweden’s Kristian Matsson will endure many many comparisons to Bob Dylan, for his adenoidal impassioned folk (think Blowin' In the Wind era), but the artist whom he should properly be compared to is Steve Forbert, for his voice is closest to that underrated star, and his music more melodic than the protest standards for which Dylan became famous. Like many Swedes writing in English, the actually lyrics have their flaws, but that doesn't stop the headlong rush through word associations sounding right on the money. This is a fantastic follow up to the great debut album, adding in great additional instruments to great effect. If there is a criticism, it is that the pace rarely varies, and that there really isn't much here that couldn't be a straight lift from another musician. Once you're past that, it's all good.

ACE rating 7/10

The New Pornographers
Once, The New Pornographers were a vital, essential new rock band, full of Neko Case energy and AC Newman drive. Then, as people started to listen, the band (always known as a 'supergroup' simply because it corralled three singers and songwriters) started to sound like the sum of some parts, and more like less than the sum of those parts. Together (perhaps ironically?) allows Case to do Case songs, Newman to do his, and, for some reason allows Dan Bejar to do his. The outcome is that this is both a retread of what worked for them in the past (Your Hands (Together)) and some material that shouldn't have ever been allowed out of the studio (Silver Jenny Dollar, If You Can't See My Mirrors). For a band that has been nothing but disappointing on recent outings, Together provides all the reason needed to stop hoping that they were an aberration.

ACE rating 5/10

Josh Ritter
So Runs The World Away
Josh Ritter's warm, gentle voice and ability to write songs that seem instantly memorable brought him to the attention of many, in that space above folk where the occasional artist achieves success. He makes the kind of music that Ryan Adams occasionally manages, or that Stephen Fretwell drifts into unwillingly. There was a time when he was called The New Springsteen, but So Runs The World Away puts him smack dead centre for The New Paul Simon, with its Still Crazy After All These Years feel. One listen to The Curse will be all you need to make you buy this album - its gently unfolding epic story beautifully told. The fact is that Josh Ritter is now an essential artist, one with a place on the shelf of every adult who likes considerate, intelligent music. This is his best album.

ACE rating 6/10

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