Skip to main content

Music Review Engaging guitar squalls with cosmic alt-country delights

IAN SINCLAIR reviews albums by Gulp, Cowboy Junkies, and Israel Nash

Gulp
All Good Wishes
(E.L.K Records)
★★★

COMPRISING Lindsey Leven on vocals, Super Furry Animals’ Guto Pryce and guitarist Gid Goundrey, Gulp trade in dreamy psych-pop.

With the tracks written in south Wales and mixed by electronic producer Luke Abbott in Norwich, the trio’s second record conjures up lots of interesting sounds and ideas. But, first and foremost, these are pop songs.

“At the end of the day we’re big fans of pop music, the three-minute song with a chorus,” Pryce explains.

So while the free-form title cut is reminiscent of Vangelis’s synth symphony Blade Runner theme tune, shimmering single Claudia has the lightness and innocence of a summer hit.

The driving Morning Velvet Sky is backed by krautrock-style beats and guitars, bringing to mind the recent work of Githead, the side project of Wire’s Colin Newman.

An engaging set.

Cowboy Junkies
All That Reckoning
(Proper Records)

★★★

THIRTY years since their career-defining alt-country masterpiece The Trinity Session, Canadian outfit Cowboy Junkies are back with their new record.

Fashioned from political and personal discontent — songwriter Michael Timmons has said his long-term relationship was in a “deep trough” — the songs have a harder edge than the ethereal folk-rock sound that has become synonymous with the band.

“Welcome to a world of self-delusion,” intones singer Margo Timmons on When We Arrive. Sing Me A Song shifts things up a gear, a big, driving tune about big themes, while All That Reckoning Pt. 2 is full of guitar squalls and lyrics detailing the highs (“I wake with my heart so full of you”) and lows (“this bed was frozen”) of romantic relationships.

Ending with The Possessed, a beautiful ukulele-strummed song about an encounter with the devil, it’s a confident and impressive return.

Israel Nash
Lifted
(Loose Music)

★★★★

HAVING knocked around the US music scene for a decade or so, with Lifted, Texas-based singer-songwriter Israel Nash has painted his masterpiece.

“File under hippie spiritual” it says on the record cover — a good summary of the cosmic alt-country delights contained within.

Treading a similar musical path to greats like Neil Young, Van Morrison, Bob Seger and The Beach Boys — check out the gorgeous vocal harmonies that close Sweet Springs — the songs sound like they belong in the rock canon already.

Even Nash’s lyrical phrasing gives a nod to the past. “All things must pass,” he sings on Strong Was The Night, while he suggests “taking it easy” on the Eagles-sounding Lucky Ones.

Backed by a warm wall of sound made up of piano, organ, banjo, pedal steel, horns and strings, Nash conjures up a euphoric and uplifting atmosphere.

Superb.

 

OWNED BY OUR READERS

We're a reader-owned co-operative, which means you can become part of the paper too by buying shares in the People’s Press Printing Society.

Become a supporter

Fighting fund

You've Raised:£ 5,907
We need:£ 12,093
18 Days remaining
Donate today