BIRDS OF CHICAGO Love In Wartime
JT Nero (JT & The Clouds frontman Jeremy Lindsay) and Allison Russell (Po’ Girl) first combined their talents on the 2011 JT Nero-branded Mountains/Forests album – an album of Americana that lacked a commercial edge.
They formalised their collaboration as Birds Of Chicago, with a marginally more ‘mainstream’ approach on their self-titled debut in 2013, and since then we’ve had a live album (Live From Space (2014), and Real Midnight (2016), the latter seemingly bypassing the GRTR! review desk.
Love In Wartime is another beguiling set that, this time around, sees JT sharing some of the writing duties with a number of co-writes with Russell and one with bass player Chris Merrill. Blending elements of country, soul, folk, and rock, the focus remains the trade off of JT’s gravelled tones and the sweetness of Russell’s.
And while it takes another couple of strides towards the mainstream – it’s the more reflective numbers that are the most striking – the gently rolling country imbued ‘Try’, the soulful ‘Roisin Starchild’, and the delicate banjo infused ‘Superlover’.
With Paul Simon taking a final bow, it’s the likes of Birds of Chicago that might vie for that gap he’ll leave in the adult popular music marketplace. And once again, they’re playing a number of dates in the UK and Ireland in May. ***1/2
Review by Pete Whalley
IAN SHERWOOD Bring The Light
It’s disconcerting when, for the second time in as many weeks, I’ve failed to register an artist that’s passed through my reviewing before. Once again it was only the previous album’s artwork that rang a bell. Oh well, at least there’s still some connections working in the old grey matter.
But the good news is that the restrains of Bring The Light -the fifth studio album from the oft nominated Canadian folk music awards winner – will hopefully linger longer.
His previous outing – Everywhere To Go (2014) left a legacy of ‘Me Or Your Money’ (a number that would give Sheeran a run for his money), and the bluesy ‘No Water’ in my music library, and Bring The Light looks set to leave a similarly indelible mark.
I don’t quite get the ‘folk’ tag, because Sherwood has more in common with the likes of CSN and Bruce Hornsby – well-crafted soft rock, albeit acoustically-based, songs. The opening four numbers -the wistful ‘Little Birds’, the bluesy stomp ‘Dig That Hole’ (a number that would surely lift Rag’n'Bone back to the top of the charts), the country highway ‘Firefly’, and the mournful ‘I See Red’ that builds to a Coldplay-like crescendo, set the bar at a level that Bring The Light struggles to match thereafter.
But steeped in traditional songwriting values, it’s an album that offers something to a number of generations. And that’s no mean feat. Sherwood will be playing a handful of promotional UK dates in May. ***1/2
Review by Pete Whalley
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GOODBYE JUNE Switchblade Heart (Earache)
SAINTS OF SIN Nasty Love (indie)
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12:00-13:00 ECLIPSE Paradigm (Frontiers)
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