This week we’re looking at the debut solo effort from Radiohead’s lead guitarist, an album with irresistible vocals, and, befittingly for this new age of quarantine, an album recorded from an artists’ front room…

EOB – Earth

EOB – Earth
7/10

The Radiohead guitarist’s debut solo album may have come about almost by accident or with no real plan for him to do it, as he tells Long Live Vinyl in our interview this issue. Regardless, the result is a much more considered and fine-tuned affair than you may expect in such circumstances. Merging minimal electronica, acoustic melancholy, ambient soundscapes and the odd foray into indie territory, O’Brien has made an honest and considered album that’s a reflection of his diverse tastes and where he believes we’re at as a planet. It’s the slightly livelier material that comes out best here, such as the pulsing Brasil and the almost camp synth pop of Olympik. O’Brien’s voice is also a pleasant surprise; free from his backing vocals role in Radiohead, he gives himself room to shine on an impressive first solo outing.

Gregory Porter – All Rise

Gregory Porter – All Rise
8/10

Gregory Porter has one of those voices which, as the cliché goes, could sing the telephone directory. Although 2017’s Nat King Cole & Me wasn’t exactly reaching for the Yellow Pages, it didn’t hit quite the same spot as his two previous self-penned mega-sellers Liquid Spirit and Take Me To The Alley. Fortunately for fans of his songwriting, All Rise is back to business, but with a twist: as Porter has it, on this album he “went big”, adding a string section, a 10-member choir and a ‘handpicked’ brass section. None of this gets in the way of Porter’s irresistible vocals, and top tunes such as Concorde and Merry Go Round already sound like future standards. The key track is Dad Gone Thing, where Porter’s rich voice combined with the obvious autobiographical sorrow, pain and triumph, is genuinely very moving.

Ron Sexsmith – Hermitage

Ron Sexsmith – Hermitage
7/10

Ron Sexsmiths’s 16th album was recorded in the front room of his new home in the Ontario countryside. Prior to this, the former Toronto resident had been slaving away at the singer-songwriter coal face for 30 years, embedding his songs in the catalogues of artists ranging from Tracey Thorn to Michael Bublé, without nabbing a hit of his own. So has a new bucolic existence affected, as the biog has it, “Canada’s foremost song and dance man”? Opening track Spring Of The Following Year starts with bird song and sees a new-found lyrical optimism; it’s gentle, slight and maybe even a little too content. Fortunately, Sexsmith’s dextrousway with a barbed word and an unexpected melodic twist soon re-emerges and by the time we reach Small Minded World, Dig Nation and You Don’t Wanna Hear It, the old Ron is back. 

Ben Wardle & Daniel Dylan Wray

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