reviews index

the reviews section of the site is being substantially upgraded (!) at the moment. For the moment,we've added the sections below & will be adding more in the coming weeks. Watch this space (as we're reliably informed, 'they' say).
[the AcoustiCity playlist] what's floating our boat at the moment; recent releases getting some serious play at AcoustiCity HQ.
[below the radar] great performers you may not catch in the mainstream media.
[reviews archive] coming soon.
[classic albums]  

the AcoustiCity playlist

Christmas 07 picks - AcoustiCity performers

For the benefit of those not on the AcoustiCity gig mailing list, these were the new albums from performers at the gig  occupying space on the AcoustiCity ipod just before Chrismas 07. Very good they are indeed; Christmas may be gone but it's always a good time to treat yourself or the deserving music fan in your life.


For her 2nd album, Fingers & Thumbs Polly Paulusma dresses her highly articulate songs & expressive breathy voice in from more diverse sonic wardrobe of jangling & distorted guitars and keyboards in addition to acoustic guitar & piano of her debut release. There’s no shying away from sensitive issues from global politics to pregnancy and this album gets better with every listen.


Any Trouble’s new album Life in Reverse comes a mere 25 years since their last! Dominated by the songs, singing & playing of front man (& AcoustiCity performer) Clive Gregson, the band format gives a harder edged sound than Clive’s solo show hinting at numerous classic pop sources but somehow managing never to be derivative. Any Trouble were at the heart of the original Pub Rock scene & as you might expect they still bring to mind the music of contemporaries Joe Jackson, Squeeze & Elvis Costello.


AcoustiCity favourites AloneMe have made a densely layered & unashamedly pop album in Sketch but the driving acoustic heart of the band, songwriting duo Dave Booth & Sarah Springett, are still much in evidence & it’s full of irresistibly hummable hooks.


Jim Moray - Jim Moray

Moray is portrayed Ziggy Startdust style on the cover of his 2nd full length album & there's something of the playful bombast of glam rock about some of the arrangements including the outstanding orchestral pomp of Lord Willougby.  There is an evident delight in track sequencing, textures & their juxtaposition making repeated listens a delight as Moray wraps his distinctive, nasal vocals &,sometimes extreme, arrangements of English folksong in vocabulary which would seem familiar to Coldplay or Travis listeners.

Steve Tilston – Of Many Hands
Stuffed with his signature tumbling acoustic guitar hooks & easy vocals Steve Tilston here revisits traditional folk classics in the esteemed company of Martin Simpson (slide guitar), Chris Parkinson (accordion), Nancy Kerr (fiddle, viola) & others.
The set evokes the feel of an confident live performance with mood varying from intimate & intense on One Night as I Lay in my Bed to many upbeat pieces includig an almost perversely jaunty Barbry Allen.

It is refreshing to see in depth sleeve notes with comment & provenance on the set which mixes new spins on perhaps over familiar pieces such & The Leaving of Liverpool & Spencer the Rover with less commonly heard pieces such as Captain Ward.
Lou Rhodes - Beloved One
Lamb vocalist Lou Rhodes goes acoustic with a vengeance. A simply exquisite album of rich layered, organic textures which improves with every listening. We have nothing more to say... just go & buy it; you won't regret it.


below the radar

The Songs of Bob Rafkin
If you like the live sound of Tom Pacheco, John Prine or Tom Russell there’s a good chance you’ll love these 12 road tested & refined regulars from Rafkin’s live set.

Stripped back to just voice & acoustic guitar, the deceptively simple & casually accomplished songs have space to breathe & hint at jazz, ragtime, blues, country rock & folk rather than beating you about the ears with full band arrangements.

Rafkin’s nimble & sweet toned finger picking is much in evidence. The arrangements make original and subtle yet powerful settings for the endearing mid-pitch, time burred voice with a some nasal tones & vibrato reminiscent (in a good way!) of a young Billy Joel.

Many of the characters in the songs could have stepped straight out of Norman Rockwell painting to look you in the eye & deliver their monologues, dreams, life stories & wry observations of everyday life. The album could be an object lesson in the craft of the understated American singer-songwriter.

Of course, none of this is more than would be expected from a mature player who features on work by Tim Buckley, Arlo Guthrie & The Everly Brothers to pick just a few names from Bob Rafkin’s astonishing CV.

Bernard Hoskin - Notes in the Margin
The first striking & momentarily disconcerting ingredient about Notes in the Margin is precision; the exactingly enunciated, very southern English, vocals & fingerpicking of which Paul Simon would be rightly proud. Multi-instrumentalist Hoskin covers most of the instrumental chores with sparing & effective contributions from Lisa Fitzgibbon & Liz Simcock (backing vocals) & Papa Sam (backing vocals & Djembe). There’s also a strong Zimbabwean guitar influence adding another eclectic ingredient. The lingering taste & perhaps the last thing to strike the listener is the sheer quality of the songs which, like the album as a whole, are memorable, highly accomplished & carefully crafted yet achieve an effortless feel.
Phil Peacock - Welcome to My World
it's a tough job keeping an album largely of contemplative love songs from sounding saccharine but Phil Peacock inserts just enough musical twists to keep this stripped back, heartfelt & precisely played & sung album on the right track.

the reviews archive.....

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