Rock (December 2018)

hfnalbum.pngKT Tunstall
Virgin Records CDV3211

KT's sixth album is the second in her trilogy focusing on themes of soul, body and mind. This one, specifically about body, is appropriately gutsy and muscular. Produced by Nick McCarthy of Franz Ferdinand, who also co-writes much of the material, it should comfortably rack up her sixth Top 10 entry. Musically, it doesn't move her style much further forward, but it does suggest that she fully merited the huge critical acclaim she picked up for the first of this trilogy, Kin, two years ago. The first single, 'The River', was a powerfully emotive rock anthem, and much of the rest easily matches it. For her more sensitive side, check 'The Night That Bowie Died', or better yet the beautifully intimate closer, 'Tiny Love'. JBk


John Butler Trio
Because Music BEC5543678

To date I've been less convinced than many of my fellow critics of the wonders of Aussie axeman and songwriter Butler. On this one, however, he's stepped a little away from the jam band ethic of previous releases and is revealed much more as an intelligent singer-songwriter without any loss of drive or power. This may be because, as the press release suggests, he recorded this album more as a solo project than as a trio album. Texturally, he's expanded his musical palette, combining rootsy instrumentation with electronic drones and atmospheric layers but, even more importantly, his songs are much better shaped than before and his voice is sounding terrific. JBk


Ian William Craig
130701 Records CD13-32P

This album by Canadian Ian William Craig is not for everybody, but I'm sure I'll be living with it for years to come. Known for his fondness for using broken tape machines to distort the sounds he records, Craig's greatest strength lies in conjuring hauntingly resonant soundscapes which suggest vast underground spaces or gigantic empty buildings. The 11 tracks on this album create the illusion of walking through interconnected rooms, each with its own acoustic characteristics. Craig's treated voice features frequently, but his words are usually indecipherable. So you'll find it utterly gorgeous or interminably tedious – and even scary. JBk


Advance Base
Animal Companionship
Orindal/Run For Cover Records 811408030700

Owen Ashworth's first band was called Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, which probably tells you all you need to know. Nobody could accuse him of owning a beautiful voice or of writing richly melodic songs. And, if you're looking to tap your feet, you'll be tapping very slowly, as Ashworth delivers ten songs which evolved from his fascination with the relationships between people and their dogs. However, being a dog owner myself, I get it totally. Ashworth's songs work more because of their bargain basement electronic backings and his intensely understated lyrical delivery than for any of the usual reasons why we love singer-songwriters. Wonderful. JBk