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Album reviews with Ian Sinclair: July 31, 2022

New releases from Ezra Furman, Sessa and David Ian Roberts

Ezra Furman
All Of Us Flames
(Bella Union)
★★★★

“THIS is a first-person plural album,” Ezra Furman says about her sixth solo record. “It’s a queer album ... songs for use by threatened communities.”

In terms of the US singer-songwriter’s personal experience, this means trans people and Jews (the album title is taken from a song in the second book of the Hebrew bible).

Like 2018’s Transangelic Exodus and the furious punk of 2019’s Twelve Nudes, there is an urgency to All Of Us Flames.

These are indie rock anthems for outsiders, with songs about escaping a threatening world, or trying to remake society anew, from the narrator of Lilac And Black “dreaming of her queer girl gang” to the apocalyptic Forever In Sunset, arguably the set’s highpoint.

Aptly, one track is titled Ally Sheedy In The Breakfast Club.

Angry, romantic pop music for outcasts everywhere.

Sessa
Estrela Acesa
(Mexican Summer)
★★★★★

THE follow up to his sensual 2019 debut record, Estrala Acesa (burning star) is a minor masterpiece from Brazilian singer-songwriter Sessa.

Recorded in an island studio just off the coast of Sao Paulo, he calls it his hangover album. The set certainly has a warm sleepy feel, mimicking the experience of drifting in and out of a summer snooze.

Tropicalia continues to be Sessa’s cultural touchstone, mixed here with mellow jazz, soul, psychedelia and rock sounds, accompanied by orchestration, a female backing choir, percussion and flute.

No doubt fans will point to Brazilian influences but for me Estrela Acesa sits alongside Sly and the Family Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On and Nick Drake’s Pink Moon as subdued albums that create a specific and enticing mood and listening experience.

Intimate and ethereal, this is very special.

David Ian Roberts
In Clover
(Cambrian Records)
★★★★

WRITTEN in 2018 and recorded in 2019, Cardiff-based guitarist and singer David Ian Roberts says In Clover is “intended to express a lot of joy and exuberance” – presumably the reason he felt it was right to postpone its release in the face of the pandemic.

It’s definitely worth the wait. There is a wonderful lightness and melancholic hue to the folk music, with Roberts accompanied by cello, violin, bass and some lovely piano flourishes.

“I feel God in the room,” he intones on stunning opener Rushing, while High As The Sun is apparently inspired by 60s Zen lecturer Alan Watts.

Instrumentally the set brings to mind Nick Drake’s classic Bryter Layter record, while on songs like Turns To Gold his vocals are a dead ringer for Elbow’s Guy Garvey.

An exquisite album of understated acoustic pastoral music.

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