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MUSIC Album reviews with Ian Sinclair: March 10, 2020

Latest releases from Brian Fallon, James Elkington and Rose Cousins

Brian Fallon
Local Honey
(Lesser Known Records/Thirty Tigers)
★★★★

HAVING blazed an increasingly popular punk-rock trail as lead singer and songwriter with The Gaslight Anthem, Brian Fallon’s first two solo outings were still very much big, chiming rock records, though edging towards a more mature sound.

Local Honey marks a shift in the Jersey Boy’s career. This is music made for introspective late-night listening, swayed along by acoustic guitar, piano, brushed drums and subtle electronic effects.

“It’s not about these glorious dreams or miserable failures, it’s just about life and how I see it,” he recently told Kerrang magazine.

Fans needn’t worry though — the high emotional intensity and great songs are both here. And he remains a hugely talented, very recognisable lyricist: “My name is Jolene but I hate that song,” is the first line on Vincent — and his focus on everyday lives brings to mind Richmond Fontaine.

James Elkington
Ever-roving Eye
(Paradise of Bachelors)
★★★★

FOLLOWING his critically acclaimed 2017 debut Wintres Woma, English guitarist and songwriter James Elkington is back with Ever-roving Eye, another brilliant album.

Based in Chicago and recording in Wilco’s Loft studio, Elkington is heavily influenced by the British folk revivalists of the 1960s, with his droning acoustic guitar licks reminiscent of masters like Bert Jansch and Davey Graham.

Though his voice isn’t his strongest asset, it does its job just fine. His hushed utterances on opener Nowhere Time, about overcoming procrastination, make the song sound like an outtake from Nick Drake’s Five Leaves Left record.

Throughout he is accompanied by bass, drums, strings, woodwinds and The Weather Station’s Tamara Lindeman on backing vocals.

Full of cryptic lyrics and highly skilled musicianship, it’s a wonderfully engaging record that will no doubt appear in the Best Albums of the Year lists come December.

Rose Cousins
Bravado
(Outside Music)
★★

THE LATEST album from Canadian singer-songwriter Rose Cousins is a cohesive set of heartfelt songs about “how we are so disconnected,” she says.

Her confessional folk work has appeared in Grey’s Anatomy and other TV shows, which makes sense — many of the piano-led ballads feel very Dawson’s Creek-y in that they are unashamedly earnest and concerned with personal issues, the musical equivalent of a Nicholas Sparks novel.

Opener The Benefits Of Being Alone is a bouncy number about single life, while the amusingly titled The Time Being (Impending Mortality Awareness Society) is a reminder that life is short and we should live fully in the present.

The Swimmer (To Be An Old Man), a swirling, searching, darker number has a little more edge to it and really makes an impression.

File alongside artists like Gretchen Peters and Beth Nielsen Chapman.

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