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Album reviews with Ian Sinclair: October 25, 2021

New releases from Reb Fountain, My Morning Jacket and Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit

Reb Fountain
(Flying Nun Records)

COMING out of the same New Zealand alt-folk scene as Aldous Harding and Marlon Williams, the second record from Reb Fountain may be the one to break her outside Australasia.

Co-produced by Dave Khan and Simon Gooding, there is a quiet confidence to the pop-noir contained within, her commanding vocals setting her apart from other indie artists.

Invisible Man was apparently inspired by Bob Dylan and midnight walks during lockdown, while the Donny Darko-citing Foxbright retreats away from the world, sounding a little like Taylor Swift: “Take to the burrow when in headlights… I feel the same about parties/I’d rather stay at home.”

The catchy Beastie is another highlight, as is the finger-picked Swim To The Star, a moving tribute to the victims of the sinking of the Titanic, written by Peggy Seeger and her son Calum MacColl.


My Morning Jacket
(ATO Records)

WITH the future of the Kentucky outfit in question a few years ago, it seems live shows in 2019 rejuvenated frontman Jim James and the rest of the band.

Their new self-titled record, their ninth studio album, is a strong return to their winning formula – widescreen, spacey rock, with a healthy interest in experimenting and hippyish philosophising, both working within and stretching the southern rock genre.
Opener Regularly Scheduled Programming makes a sideways nod to the pandemic, while Least Expected is a neat tune that trills along over some delightfully warm keyboards.

Elsewhere, Complex’s monster riffs shows they can still tear things up, and the eight-minute, meandering I Never Could Get Enough is the perfect closer. James’s soulful, soaring vocals really are a thing of wonder.

Rarely has a band been as consistently brilliant at My Morning Jacket.

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit
Georgia Blue
(Southeastern Records)

ON November 5 2020, with the state of Georgia still to be called in the US presidential election, singer-songwriter Jason Isbell tweeted that he would record a covers album of Georgia artists and give the proceeds to charity if the state went to the Democrats.

Georgia did just this, and Isbell has delivered on his promise, with help from friends like Julien Baker, John Paul White, Brandi Carlile, and his wife Amanda Shires.

There are some classic songs like Midnight Train To Georgia and James Brown’s Man’s World featuring Brittany Spencer, along with lesser known tracks like Honeysuckle Blue, with its Blue Ridge Mountains-sized guitar riffs, and Vic Chesnutt’s I’m Through.

The set is bookended with two faithful REM covers – an affecting take on Nightswimming, with Bela Fleck on banjo, and a spirited run through of Driver 8.


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