He has a dry and dusty voice, full of emotion and a world-weariness that is really appealing, his guitar playing is fine – I mean really fine – and his songwriting comes from the top drawer. A lot of influential music reviewers have raved about him and for once the consensus is right.
There is a lot here that puts me in mind of John Martyn in that middle period when he was moving from the pure folk of John & Beverley Martyn and into a sparse and atmospheric music – I must admit to being a sucker for that sound and this whole album has that quality. That he is working with Danny Thompson on double bass only adds to that sound.
But his songwriting – both lyrics and music – is so incredibly strong that you quickly forget any comparisons.
This is an album where I cannot pick up a standout track. 11 pieces that all work perfectly within themselves and as part of a larger piece.
They are abstractions on the lives of the artists that have most inspired him – ‘Rothko’ for the artist, Federico Gabriel Lorca influenced both ‘Lorca’ and ‘Tienes Mi Alma En Tus Manos’. The title track is based on a quote from Jose ‘Pepe’ Mujica – ex president of Uruguay who gave 90% of his salary to charity and refused to live in the presidential palace. Other references are to Kerouac - ‘Desolation Angels’ (my personal favourite Kerouac) - or Paul Klee.
He uses strings and horns sparingly, the main instrument here is his wonderful guitar playing and that gravel voice but every track receives its own treatment and producer Mark Hallman deserves some kudos for a terrific job.
I seriously adore this guy’s playing and singing and the album is a real piece of class in a world of bland and dull.