Rock, January 2020

hfnalbum.pngBedouin Soundclash
Mr Bongo/Easy Star MRBCD211

The long-awaited fifth album from this astonishingly eclectic Canadian duo is well worth the wait. The core creative couple, vocalist/songwriter Jay Malinowski and bassist Eon Sinclair, have lost none of their drive or their ability to mix and match musical styles as if there were really no barriers between traditional jazz, soul, pop, electronica and dance. Recorded partly in New Orleans with the participation of the revered Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and partly in Vancouver with the St James Music Academy children's choir, this is one of the most joy-filled albums I've encountered in ages. It's also choc-full of gloriously singable songs and virtually irresistible top of head to toe tip grooves. JBk


Jack Broadbent
Moonshine Blue
Crows Feet Records CF004CD (LP: CF004LP)

Five albums into an acclaimed career, Broadbent has been slowly but surely carving out a place for himself as a blues-based singer-songwriter and guitarist who is capable of transcending the limitations of that genre. He's been hailed as 'the new master of the slide guitar' at the Montreux Jazz Festival and as 'the real thang' by the legendary Bootsy Collins, but it's the strength of his songwriting that sets him head and shoulders above most Brit-bluesmen. Indeed, with the folksy 'Every Time I Drown' and the pounding rock of 'Wishing Well', I'd classify him as a smart singer-songwriter who just happens to have roots in the blues. JBk


Richard Fearless
Deep Rave Memory
Drone Records Drone 020 D

In recent years, Fearless has released a handful of intriguing 12in vinyl discs, but this is his first complete solo album. He is best-known as leader of aggressively electronic London band Death In Vegas, but this release finds him exploring the fringes of ambient drone, with tracks such as 'Vision Of You', the hypnotic 'Driving With Roedelius' and the swirling 'Deep Rave Memory'. But there's also retro electronica in the burbling 'Broken Beauty', and techno-dance with 'Atlas Of Insanity'. The whole is a veritable sampler of electronic instrumental styles, so not every track will please every listener, but those with eclectic tastes will find it fascinating. JBk


Jens Carelius
Jansen Records JANSEN105CD

You don't need to know that this is an album of songs about a German butterfly collector. What matters is that Jens Carelius is a terrific finger-style guitarist, with an engaging voice and a gift for songwriting. On this, his fourth solo album, Carelius partners with multi-instrumentalist/composer Lars Horntveth to create what is effectively a soundtrack to the life of Carelius' great-great-grandfather, who documented over 50,000 specimens of butterflies. So, yes, it's a concept album but, happily, every track stands up perfectly as a beautiful song in its own right, with Horntveth's imaginative orchestrations complementing Carelius' own creativity. JBk