Here’s three albums we’ve received for artists who have previously graced Blabber’n’Smoke.
Larkin Poe & Thom Hell The Sound of the Ocean Sound
Larkin Poe have over the course of five E.P.s gradually transformed from a bluegrass outfit into a slinkier, slightly smouldering country and soul tinged folk rock band. The Sound of the Ocean Sound is their first full length release and here they’ve teamed up with Norwegian, Thom Hell, with the album recorded in two sessions set a year apart. Hell and the two Lovell sisters are accompanied by bass, drums and organ achieving a full band sound while the production sets out to achieve a glossy radio friendly sound that is aided and abetted by some of the writing. The soaring harmonies and driving beat of P.S. I Love You seem tailor made for the airwaves although Hell’s falsetto cries let the song down somewhat. Leave has a touch of the Nicks/Buckingham era Fleetwood Mac about it while the opening song I Belong To Love opens with a nice bass thump before some fine sounding resophonic guitar licks remind you that Larkin Poe have their roots in country. It’s a pity therefore that the remainder of the album pursues the route that the Lovell sisters seem determined to follow, a relatively innocuous FM sound that would sit well on daytime Radio Two.
Rebecca Pronsky. Only Daughter
Rebecca Pronsky on Only Daughter is another one who has moved on from a countrified sound to a fuller fleshed rock approach. Again some of this approaches the sound of Fleetwood Mac circa Rumours (as on Honesty) however Pronsky’s powerful voice and her husband, guitarist Rich Bennet’s production ensure that she remains her own woman. Bennet’s command of his guitar and the sounds he produces have a huge impact on the album with his best contribution coming on the layers that swoon throughout Pronsky’s cover of Mark Kozelek’s Glen Tipton. The ominous dark pounding Big Demands and the bustling opener Rise Up are powerful songs that engage the listener however Pronsky has her upbeat moments with the wonderful rippling guitar of Better That Way capturing a sense of innocence. A fine album and there’s an opportunity to catch Pronsky live as she appears in Glasgow at the Woodend Club on Wednesday 20th March.
Rob Lutes. The Bravest Bird
Rob Lutes’ The Bravest Birds is our introduction to his studio work having only heard his fine live album recorded with long time collaborator, Rob MacDonald. MacDonald is on board here along with a selection from the cream of Montreal musicians. Live we thought Lutes came across in the tradition of American storytellers such as Townes Van Zandt. Studio bound he is less the folksinger and more the cosmopolitan blue-collar sage, a touch of Randy Newman, Tom Waits and even Springsteen peeking through the curtains at the back of the studio . Lutes has a great voice. Husky, reeking of experience, wise and learned, effortless for the most part. His performance on The Ithaca Waterfall is tremendous on what is a fine song, evocative and moving with some fine guitar interludes from MacDonald. MacDonald shines throughout with his sinuous playing evident from the opening The Ship That Sails Today. Things We Didn’t Choose is a song that reminds one of Bob Seger’s Night Moves, no bad thing indeed as Lutes captures a moment in time and the band imbue it with a fine sense of grandeur. Lutes repeats this on Glory, a powerful ballad that has the emotional draw of Mickey Newbury’s American Trilogy. Pick of the songs is Still Dark, a song that shimmers and shivers with a latent menace.