Album reviews: Eliza Carthy, John Mayall and more

January 29, 2017
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ALBUM OF THE WEEK

Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band Big Machine (Topic)

But Big machine, recorded with her 12-piece Wayward Band, is something else again. From the whining feedback that heralds opening track Fade & Fall (Love Not), this is 

an unpredictable and brilliant exercise in raw and scintillating power, Carthy’s rich and subversively theatrical vocal set against shifting patterns of instrumentation that are utterly compelling.

Devil In The Woman and The Fitter’s Song are playful, ironic but immensely affecting, the feather-light scat singing that skips through Jack Warrell’s (Excerpt) – Love Lane, a totally unexpected twist and the Rap-infused You Know Me, an extraordinary reflection on the refugee crisis.

A lie-affirming collection of songs, fizzing with energy and imagination, Big Machine also feels like a complete re-invention of folk music. Yup, it’s that good.

John Mayall Talk About That (Forty Below Records)

Eighty three-year-old Mayall helped launch the careers of Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Jack Bruce among many others who passed through the ranks of his legendary Bluesbreakers band. But he’s still, somehow, out on his own, a restless and energetic spirit as adept at hollering out a powerful high-stepper like Cards On The Table as threading a rolling, rippling piano line through the irresistible Gimme Some Of That Gumbo.

Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh is special guest here, his lines as smooth and lyrical as ever, particularly on The Devil Must Be Laughing. Mayall’s gigs at Ronnie Scott’s in April should be among the year’s musical highlights.

VERDICT: 4/5

Johnnyswim Georgica Pond (Big Picnic)

A slick and soulful husband and wife vocal duo who met in church in Nashville, Johnnyswim are Abner and Amanda Sudano Ramirez, the latter the third and youngest daughter of Donna Summer. Amanda boasts a superb r’n’b voice while Abner favours a more classic crooning style. But together they produce an irresistibly sensual sound, particularly on the stunning Summertime Romance, a blend of modern soul and vintage Hollywood atmosphere.

VERDICT: 3/5

Brent Cash The New High  (Marina MA81)

In which Cash, from Athens, Georgia, pays homage to the sweet and effortless American pop of the early 1970s, particularly that of Todd Rundgren on his 1972 masterpiece Something/Anything.

Following Todd’s example he plays all the instruments here, building minor gems like Out For Blood and The Way You Were from layers of sumptuous piano chords and swooning strings. His voice, though sweet and high enough for the genre, is a little wayward at times but there’s a winning charm about it all.

VERDICT: 3/5



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