Rock, April 2020

Trapped Animal Records TAR 018

These people, one woman and two blokes based in London, deserve your attention, even if they sometimes stray into amorphous avantgarde cacophony. Sarah Palmer provides almost all of the vocals, a role she fulfils exquisitely, while the two chaps mostly confine themselves to providing brooding electronic accompaniment, and are occasionally set loose to create ambient soundscapes which are fascinating. But it's when they go for something more closely related to classic pop, such as the captivating, soaring 'Magpie', the sci-fi nightmare of 'Limbs', or the enigmatically, almost unbearably sweet 'Hellsto' that their potential is revealed to full effect. Don't expect an easy ride but, trust me, it's wonderful. JBk


Son Little
Anti- Records EPIT7678-2A

I've sung the praises of this superior Philadelphia-born blues-oriented singer-songwriter-guitarist before, but with this third album he's exceeded even his own high standards. Written in just eight days and recorded at the iconic Studio Ferber in Paris, Aloha is the first time Little has handed the production reins to someone else, Renaud Letang – previous credits include Feist and Manu Chao. The results are commendable with Little ingeniously blending r'n'b with mainstream rock in songs as gutsy as they are singable. Relinquishing control of the production duties seems to have freed him up to dig deeper into his own creativity. JBk


Seth Lakeman
A Pilgrim's Tale
BMG LC19813

A concept album, no less, about the Pilgrim Fathers and their journey to America to escape religious persecution 400 years ago. Lakeman's credentials as a creative folk singer-songwriter require no further elaboration here, and this bold venture is a delight. The dozen songs, interspersed with narration by Paul McGann, feature notably tasteful cameos from vocalist Cara Dillon and upright bassist Ben Nicholls, but Lakeman himself is at the heart of the entire album both vocally and instrumentally. Recorded in Lakeman's home studio on Dartmoor, this stands as further evidence that excellent results can be achieved without spending tens of thousands. JBk


Pavey Ark
Close Your Eyes And Think Of Nothing
Pavey Ark PA101

Probably the most conventional of this month's crop, Pavey Ark are alt-folkies from Hull, led by singer-songwriter Neil Thomas. They're good at what they do, but what they do isn't exactly new or different. They claim inspiration from Nick Drake, Love, Father John Misty and other worthies, which would be fine if they were building something fresh onto those admirable foundations. Instead, their songs drift pleasantly along, rarely providing any of the surprises that can make debut albums so much more than merely interesting. Given a producer who could stand outside the group and lend a hand with arrangements, they might be much better. JBk