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(Blue Elan Records)
JESS DAYTON from Beaumont, eastern Texas, has zydeco in his blood and it is this rich melange of sounds that informs his impressive, disciplined musicianship.
This offering is rather unusual as Dayton reinterprets some of his favourite rock classics — a risky undertaking at the best of times.
But he is astonishingly successful — Dayton is in excellent melodic voice throughout.
Bruce Springsteen’s State Trooper, ascetic and pounding, is majestic, while the harmonica-driven Whole Lotta Rosie AC/DC is pulsatingly infectious. His cover of Dr Feelgood’s splendidly metronomic She Does It Right would delight both Wilko Johnson and Lee Brilleaux with its southern two-step.
Jackson Browne’s memorable Redneck Friend is as pensive and persuasive as originally intended and The Clash’s Bankrobber thrills with its sheer joyful energy.
The excellent band, tight and measured, are too many to namecheck individually.
Velvet & Stone
Velvet & Stone
(Velvet Stone Music)
IT’S rare when something as entirely innovative and inspirational as this masterly collection makes an appearance.
Velvet & Stone’s sophisticated vision musically inhabits the same the universe as Valparaiso, Giant Sand or Dresden Dolls. Lara Snowdon, who’s composed the songs, has a beguiling polyphonic voice — now a quivering whisper, now potently sonorous, it meanders with bewitching ease from track to track.
Yet it is her symbiotic relationship with Kathryn Tremlett on violin that truly gobsmacks.
The latter’s astonishing precision and incisive yet sublime touch recalls Ginette Neveu or Wanda Wilkomirska in the way she phrases or defines rhythm.
The orchestrations, full of crescendos and sudden pauses, are in turn powerful and delicate and articulated by a septet of musicians in a masterly ensemble.
Oh Boy, Lay Her Down or Walls simply mesmerise.
A rare treat.
ORIGINALLY hailing from Armagh, adopted Scouser Una Quinn’s debut album is one of rich promise.
Written while unemployed — she’s also a music teacher — and negotiating the oppressive benefits system. Quinn’s vision is atmospheric, even sombre, but its theatricality and eclecticism are adventurous and engaging.
Sung sotto voce throughout, there’s a dreamy quality and passages of sheer beauty on tracks such as Who Said?, embroidered with fabulous clarinet and flute interventions by Michael Quinn and Louis Bacchino.
Intriguingly confessional, Steal Away and title track Inside Out flow like a giant river, carried along by a richly textured instrumentation in laid-back tempo lento.
The lyrics, responding to “confusion and frustrations fostered by deceptive media and the intentional contradictions of changing political structures,” remain enigmatic, with Neil Campbell providing intricate guitar and keyboard throughout as well as, no doubt, lending moral support.
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