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Jan
2017
Tuesday 31st
posted by Morning Star in Arts

Rebekka Karijord
Mother Tongue
(Control Freak Kitten)
3/5
RECORDED in Hawaii, Stockholm and Oslo, the new record from Norwegian singer-songwriter Rebekka Karijord was written following the premature birth of her first child.
Thus as a concept album, chronologically sequenced from fertilisation to the first two years of her daughter’s life, it’s a startling and varied affair.
The songs, often disjointed and difficult, echo the weirdness of her fellow countrywoman Jenny Hval.
But when Karijord hits her stride, as she does on the two more poppy singles Orbit and Home, it is the phrasing and thematic ambition of South African Cherilyn MacNeil — aka Dear Reader — that immediately come to mind.
There are some beautifully delicate moments too, from the stark emotion of the piano ballad title track to the gentle strings on Waimanalo, named after a favourite beach in the 50th US state.
Mother Tongue is an album to get completely lost in.
Ian Sinclair

Sean Taylor
Flood and Burn
(seantaylorsongs.com)
5/5
SINCE Sean Taylor started working with legendary US producer Mark Hallman, the London singer-songwriter has discovered his own voice.
Taylor’s guitar virtuosity, ranging from ambient to upbeat folk, holds the album together and peaks on the superb blues track Life Goes On.
The addition of trumpet, sax and strings from a supergroup ensemble including Hallman, Danny Thompson and Leonard Cohen’s bandleader Roscoe Beck, creates the richer depth of sound that makes this an exceptional album, whose occasional flourishes of violin bring to mind 1970s Dylan.
Taylor’s lyrics tackle both militarism and religion, while the instantly catchy Cruelty of Man takes a swipe at reality TV. The bluesy reworking of the Elvis standard Heartbreak Hotel screams out to be released as a single. It could be Taylor’s stepping stone to the Jools Holland mainstream.
All in all, a masterclass in intelligent Americana. Mercury judges, take note.
Dave Smith

Rab Noakes
The Treatment Tapes
(Neon Records/Proper)
5/5
THESE tracks were written during a session of treatment for tonsillar cancer that legendary singer-songwriter Rab Noakes had to endure during 2015.
It must have been a hammer blow for a professional singer but, as he says, “at least I knew I’d probably get a couple of songs out of it.”
There are six to be precise, from the reflective Mindful, enhanced by Anne Rankin’s sombre oboe, to the rural blues defiance of That Won’t Stop Me.
The love song I Always Will is a beautiful tribute to his wife and fellow fighter Stephy Pordage and closing track Water Is My Friend, inspired by advice from his radiographer, is a tribute to her and other NHS staff which points up the inequality of society’s value of their worth compared with bankers.
Good to know Noakes is back on top form.
He’s certainly “not going anywhere,” if this marvellous EP is anything to go by.
Chris Bartter




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