Record reviews

from Kevin Bryan

Laura Cantrell, No Way There From Here (Spit & Polish Records)- New York based singer-songwriter Laura Cantrell may have been one of the late John Peel’s favourite country performers but she’s never been a particularly prolific one,and No Way There From Here actually represents her first new album of original material since 2005’s Humming By The Flowered Vine. The finished product must rank as Laura’s most impressive offering to date,liberally peppered with introspective gems such as Letter She Sent Me, Glass Armour and the affecting title tune.

Ian McCulloch, Holy Ghosts (Edsel Records)- This new solo offering from the famously opinionated Echo and the Bunnymen frontman is divided equally between live orchestral re-workings of old favourites such as Bring on the Dancing Horses and The Killing Moon and a batch of subtly compelling new material under the collective heading of Pro Patria Mori. The overall mood of the 2CD package is much more mellow and understated than the flashy indie-pop which made McCulloch’s name during the early eighties but Holy Ghosts is well worth investigating nonetheless,with Me and David Bowie and Lift Me Up emerging as musical highpoints.

Goldfrapp, Tales of Us (Mute CDSTUMM356)- This seductive new offering from Alison Goldfrapp and her creative collaborator Will Gregory was apparently two years in the making,and finds the duo largely eschewing the familiar delights of electropop in favour of an ethereal approach to music-making dominated by strings and delicately strummed guitars. Alison’s breathy, semi-whispered vocals are a constant delight as she channels the spirit of classic fifties film noir via fine tracks such as Laurel, and the reclusive Kate Bush’s influence underpins the chilling Simone.

Nick van Bloss, Chopin: Sonata in B minor & 24 Preludes (Nimbus NI 6215)- Nick’s two previous Nimbus CDs have helped to establish the London born classical pianist as a peerless interpreter of Chopin’s work, and his latest recital delves a little more deeply into the Polish expatriate’s glittering repertoire with performances of the composer’s last three piano sonatas and the 24 Preludes. The latter work has been hailed as one of the finest achievements of early Romanticism,and van Bloss tackles it with the rare blend of poetry and precision which has become his artistic trademark.

Big Country, Live at The Town And Country Club (Wienerworld WNRD2573)- Big Country’s best days were already well behind them when this live DVD was recorded at the Town and Country Club in 1990. but Stuart Adamson’s unique outfit still had no difficulty in delighting their highly receptive London audience with the cream of their anthemic back catalogue. Rabble-rousing hits such as In A Big Country, Fields of Fire and Wonderland were all given a welcome airing before the band closed with an energised cover of Neil Young’s Rockin’ In The Free World.

Kevin Bryan