Rock, February 2019

hfnalbum.pngRaoul Vignal
Oak Leaf
Talitres TAL 109

If Donovan had been born in the south of France and paid his dues in the folk clubs of Berlin, he might have wound up sounding something like Raoul Vignal. His gently but confidently picked acoustic guitar, his warm, confidential vocals and the eclectic range of styles Vignal explores on this, his second full-length album, make him very easy to listen to. And if his songs require a couple of listens to grasp, the effort is certainly repaid. Musically, it's a sparse affair, mostly just voice, guitar, double-bass and understated percussion, but the eloquently jazzy soprano sax of Tom Cargnard and the occasional vibraphone interjections from Gregoire Colson add just enough colour to make this album a mellow delight. JBk


Go March
Yokozuna Records YZ004CD

In recent years, Belgium has become something of a hub for adventurous bands operating on the accessible side of avant-garde electronica, and this lot are another fine example. Go March is a three-piece hailing from Antwerp, and anyone who loved Kraftwerk at their best will find much to enjoy here. They fall into two main categories: the first being twitchy, danceable outings like the recent single 'Chop Chop'; while the second is a clutch of languidly drifting yet still rhythmically propulsive cuts such as 'Meristem' or 'Leopolderson'. If you can live with the fact that they don't sing, their instrumental compositions are very appealing. JBk


Michael Blyth & The Wild Braid
Indigo Train
AV8 Records AV8-7

Michael Blyth is a sensitive singer-songwriter with a voice almost as gravelly as Joe Cocker's, which doesn't sound like a marriage made in heaven, but once you get used to him, there's definitely something here that merits a listen. Blyth's lengthy history runs from folk-rock bands in Brighton to an early incarnation of the Psychedelic Furs, years lost to alcohol in California and a spell in jail, but this album conjures the spirits of Johnny Cash and Leonard Cohen, with Blyth growling and moaning about the lives he's lived and the loves he's lost. His cavernous voice isn't always strictly in tune, but his soul will connect with anyone who has truly lived. JBk


Frankie Davies
Wherever I Go
FD Music FDCD1

At first listen you'd be forgiven if you mistook Frankie Davies for a Nashville song-thrush but she was, in fact, born in Jersey a couple of decades back. She's a more perceptive, insightful singer-songwriter than many of her countrified contemporaries, so staunch traditionalists might find her decidedly modern woman lyrics hard to take, but in a world where Taylor Swift ranks near the top of the world's female singers, Davies should have no trouble in finding a sizeable audience. Her songs, however, aren't consistently top-notch, eg, with 'Together' a lightweight knock-up of musical and lyrical clichés but, at her best, she's hard to resist. JBk