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Music Album reviews with Ian Sinclair: November 26, 2019

Latest releases from Beans on Toast, Erin Anne and Jan Garbarek and The Hilliard Ensemble

Beans On Toast
The Inevitable Train Wreck
(BOT Music)
★★★

HAVING built up a loyal cult following since starting out in 2005, British singer-songwriter Jay McAllister – aka Beans On Toast – returns with his 11th studio record.

With Lewis and Kitty Durham writing the music and producing, Beans describes it as “a rock'n’roll album about our dying planet.” That’s rock'n’roll with a strong DIY folky vibe, sounding like a cross between his compadre Frank Turner and troubadour Rory McLeod.

Catchy opener World Gone Crazy harks back to ramshackle indie bands like The Holloways. Politically it’s all very right on, with Beans fighting the good fight as he focuses his ire on corporations, politicians, empire nostalgia, artificial intelligence and, er, those who leave their tents behind at festivals.

Though there is little deeply profound or startlingly original here, it’s nevertheless an enjoyable set of rousing protest songs.

Erin Anne
Tough Love
(Carpark Records)
★★★★

CURRENTLY doing a PhD in musicology at the University of California in Los Angeles, Erin Anne’s debut album is a gloriously unruly set of wordy indie rock.

Sounding like the much cooler and better-read older sister of LA duo Girlpool, song after song hits the sweet spot. With its waves of synths, Bedroom Track (Carrie) was inspired by musician Carrie Brownstein’s memoir and has the raw power of Ani DiFranco, while a 1980s pop hit struggles to break free from underneath Bitter Winter’s DIY guitars.

Things get even better with the rifftastic title track and Gaslighter, which concerns the confusion of an abusive relationship: “I still don't know what I did wrong”, Anne sings.

Incredibly infectious, slightly unhinged and full of moxy, like Hannah Horvath it feels as if Erin Anne could well be a voice of a generation.

Jan Garbarek and The Hilliard Ensemble
Remember Me, My Dear
(ECM Records)
★★★★

WHILE a Norwegian jazz saxophonist working with a British male vocal quartet interested in mediaeval music doesn’t initially scream commercial success, it’s important to remember that Officium, Jan Garbarek and The Hilliard Ensemble’s 1994 debut album, has sold more than one million copies.

Remember Me, My Dear is a live recording from their 2014 farewell tour and its 14 tracks include songs from the 12th century and numbers inspired by Native American poetry, Arvo Part’s Most Holy Mother of God and two Garbarek originals. Baritone Gordon James describes Garbarek’s playing as “like having a fifth singer weaving in and out of the texture.”

The version of Litany by Russian composer Nikolay Kedrov is particularly beautiful, with sonorous saxophone flourishes soaring above the celestial voices.

While there is drama and intensity, the expansive set fashions a calming, pensive mood in what's an exquisite offering.

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