BRUCE COCKBURN Bone On Bone True North Records [Release date 15.09.17]
Sounds like a name I ought to know, but maybe I’m thinking about ‘Rooster’. But, in reality, Canadian singer songwriter Bruce Cockburn sounds more like a cross between Mark Knopfler and EC in the singing/songwriting capacity (as opposed to guitar playing). In other words, ‘grizzled’.
A seasoned veteran, who at the ripe young age of 72, has over 30 albums under his belt since his debut in 1970, Cockburn sounds in remarkably rude health.
Supported by a superb cast of bassist, John Diamond, and drummer Gary Craig, with significant contributions from nephew John Aaron Cockburn on accordion, and Ron Miles on fluegelhorn, Cockburn’s finger picking is central to a wide and varied set.
While comparisons with Knopfler’s vocal style is never far away, and the album opener, ‘State I’m In’ would have graced any Dire Straits release, ‘Stab At The Matter’ visits the blues/gospel genre favoured by EC, the acoustic folk of ‘Forty Years In The Wilderness’ echoes Springsteen circa Nebraska, ‘Café Society’ the blues, and ‘False River’ some wonderful Latin infused finger picking.
Maybe not to everyone’s taste, but a quality release and one worthy of investigation by anyone who has enjoyed Knopfler’s post Dire Straits output. ***
Review by Pete Whalley
A BLUE FLAME When Your Whole World Turns To Dust
[Release date 25.09.17]
When Your Whole World Turns To Dust picks up where Leicester songsmith Richard Stone’s debut as A Blue Flame – What We’ve Become Is All That Now Remains (2016) left off, with a Bacharach/Everything But The Girl, horn embellished ‘We Feel Like We Feel’. It’s a classy opener.
The set glistens, shimmers and bounces along largely in a space inhabited by the likes of Richard Hawley, and before him artists like Prefab Sprout, with Tony Robinson’s marvellous trumpet/flugelhorn playing central to the plot.
A prolific writer, When Your Whole World Turns To Dust flits from Radio 2 friendly tunes, to the feedback infused ‘See What To Tomorrow Brings’, and the almost punk/Stranglers sounding ‘Empty Head’, through to the lightest of ditties and almost ballroom ‘Love Will Set Us Free’.
A marked progression from his debut, there’s some finely crafted material and sumptuous hooks, but the diversity on offer may detract from significant sales. Beguiling and bewildering in equal measure. ***
Review by Pete Whalley
MORNING STAR s/t [Release date 01.02.17]
I always worry when the most interesting piece of information presented about a band in their PR sheet is that ‘MorningStar combines Southern rock and blues with an undeniable 1970′s energy that will entrance you’.
Fronted by Tasmin Morningstar, the four piece from Austin, Texas, are indeed locked into the 70′s – when not playing their own material, they can be found performing covers of artists as diverse as Black Sabbath and Gerry Rafferty (there’s some videos of shockingly poor quality on their website).
Backed up by Timothy McCoy on lead guitar and vocals, David Efries on bass, and Reed Hoffman on drums, Tasmin Morningstar is a pretty decent torch vocalist (with faint echoes of Debbie Harry in her phasing) and McCoy has some nice fluid licks, but while there’s a nice Southern groove to the band’s overall sound, for the most part the material is overly telegraphed.
But there are some sweet spots – the haunting bluesy, late night/early hours ‘Ocean Too Blue’, the broodily throbbing ‘Right Place, Right Time’, and the funky ‘Undone’.
MorningStar are no doubt a blast in a hot sweaty club, but it’s hard to see their debut leading to a wider breakthough. **1/2
Review by Pete Whalley
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