STYLE: Roots/Acoustic RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 166731-25858 LABEL: Independent FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1
Reviewed by Tony Cummings
For my money Davies-Jones is the best folk-orientated singer/songwriter in the British Church and I've been awaiting a new album with considerable expectation. So I'm delighted to report that the Northumberland-based songsmith here delivers his best album and considering the quality of 2013's 'Now But Not Yet' and 2006's 'Only For A Short While' that's saying something. In truth most singer/songwriter albums quickly pall. For them to work you need quality lyrics that express thoughts and insights and use imagery that stick in the mind wedded to music that passes the old grey whistle test. Such a feat can often take songwriters years to achieve, if ever, but Gareth manages it consistently here. Gareth's album features some collabs with dead poets (WB Yeats - "Rosa Mundi") and living poets (Stewart Henderson - "The Luminous Years" which, with its flood of memorable images, reminds me of a Henderson collaboration with another singer/songwriter, Martyn Joseph, "Everything In Heaven Falls Apart"). Elsewhere there is a haunting rendition of "Pastures Of Plenty" (a powerful song I first heard decades ago on Woody Guthrie's 'Dustbowl Ballads' album). All these tracks are very fine. But the absolute standouts are the three songs Gareth penned alone, "All Things Come", a haunting reminder that the things we hope for will one day come to pass; "Alternative" which manages the difficult task of conveying the bigotry and selfishness of the modern world without resorting to the political polemicist rant of many songwriters; and "Lost", a courageously honest admission that sometimes grief or disasters will bring us to a place where we feel lost. The musical device of an extended pause between the word "lost" and the line preceding it is breathtakingly effective. Throughout, Gareth's vocal is pitch perfect while the understated accompaniments of his nimble-fingered acoustic guitar with David Lyon occasionally weighing in with some elegant piano. In truth only a few albums are likely to stay in your CD stack or your iPod for years to come. If you search out a copy of 'The Beauty & The Trouble' I predict it will do just that.
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