Wednesday 27 February 2013

John Amadon - The Bursting Sheaf

Album review by

The opening track lets us know straight away that the press, the reviews aren't a parade, and this is worthy stuff from a newish artist. Indeed the very title is reminiscent of a Bonnie 'Prince' Billy album in its authentic, well chosen mix of words: 'The Bursting Sheaf'. The opening track; it sounds vaguely surf to begin with, but who's to say it's a surf sound just because it has clickety and raw, echoed guitar licks? In fact it might be better described as "underwater ninja" music (not an existing sub-genre yet), but he chose the more reconcilable: 'Saltwater Crocodile'. Then we have with ;Walking the Shoulder; a tune which, like many of his compositions, rings of a classic feel; something Vetiver might well wish they had composed. It is an eminently simple but faintly beautiful tune of indie-folk with a touch of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young on the harmonies, yet with the accomplished, contemporary production sound of, say, Ben Folds. It sounds just as warm and as truly perfect as some of the best on his first album, 'Seven Stars'. By the time you hear 'Set Stone' you suspect he’s a multi-instrumentalist and you are awarded with lyrics of the likes of "you may think that you need to restore me, but you won’t; I’m set in stone" almost bringing to mind some of Prince Billy’s honest, little classics on 'Sings Greatest Palace Music' but less sombre and more positive, though similarly honest.

Regarding Neil Young, there’s not a shared identity but there is a similarity. 'Two Hunters' almost has the same arresting, arousing effect of the opener to 'Harvest', something about the metre of it, and it's nearly as well conceived. That's impressive as 'Harvest' is a seminal album. Is this a seminal album? Well, 'Seven Stars' perhaps was, but that the question is even worthy of raising with 'The Bursting Sheaf' is actually very, very  impressive. Not to over do the Bonnie 'Prince' Billy comparison, but John Amadon could very easily find himself in that territory of highly regarded, well exposed alternative folk; the kind of music that is revered, gets millions of listens and yet there is never a hit single. John Amadon could also be very at home playing with Vetiver or Band Of Horses in a sunny, American folk venue but he's quite studio orientated and doesn't have a band as yet, although there are some vague plans.

At the moment he's a studio professional, and Scott McPherson, who has worked with Elliott Smith and Neil Finn, appears on this album, as well as a list of other extremely competent guests. 'Oaths' is benefited by this, and remains an accomplished highlight. What might really make this your favourite release for some time is that it feels like an album, it really does. His plan was to go into the studio shortly after the very well received 'Seven Stars' with its gems like 'Empty Fiction' and not have a plan other than to write "no love songs". What has come out is such luscious stuff, I guess because it has the folk-rock character of composition, where experiments and allusions are embellished, made into something whole and even given a fine precedence. Basically every track has a suspenseful, and therefore exciting composition; many have delicately played, intriguing outros as well, which are a sure sign of comfortableness with a track, and dedication. There is a guiding energy to all these tracks, like a soul who simply wishes to create, and nothing else besides. That's rare. This artist will find some very happy listeners indeed, that is for certain, and he'll be regularly played in people's private rooms, and on head sets around the globe for some time to come. To be honest, this is the kind of real music a fair amount of the people who fell in love with Fleet Foxes and co. will have been eagerly waiting for.

Free download: 'Meet Me When I Call'
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Free download: 'Taking My Field Away'
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