Albums: Gerry Cinnamon, BC Camplight, Lucinda Williams and Monophonics
GERRY Cinnamon has achieved a rare feat in the music industry – landing himself a sizeable, loyal following while going largely under the radar of the public spotlight.
His second album, The Bonny sees Cinnamon (real name Gerard Crosbie), return to his distinctive, folk-influenced style, with his heavy Glaswegian twang ever-present. It features a number of anthemic songs driven by Cinnamon's powerful voice such as Sun Queen, Canter and War Song Soldier, which offer a hint as to how he was able to find success through his live shows rather than internet or media hype.
But it is on some of the album's mellower numbers that he falls flat, seemingly unable to capture the intensity that is in his more upbeat songs. Despite downplaying his album's chances of success prior to its release, it's sure to be a hit with his fans.
With The Bonny, Cinnamon's star looks set to continue its rise.
Shortly After Takeoff
"THIS afternoon I thought about Buckfast and space, I danced around my kitchen singing Ace Of Base," starts I Only Drink When I'm Drunk, the opening track on BC Camplight's fifth and best album.
Full of beautiful melodies and lyrics infused with gallows-humour, the album addresses his demons full on; Ghosthunting begins with a fabricated stand-up routine about his mental health issues and his dad's death, while album closing instrumental Angelo is also a tribute to his late father.
Cemetery Lifestyle has rock'n'roll and doo wop elements, while the smooth 1970s FM radio sound of Harry Nilsson is revisited in I Want To Be In The Mafia. Cultural references include Irn Bru, Rachel Riley and watching John McClane in Die Hard 2 "for the 38th time".
John Grant struggled for years before finding success: BC Camplight (real name Brian Christinzio) has a reputation as an unforgettable live performer and could follow Grant into the mainstream.
Good Souls Better Angels
GOOD Souls Better Angels is the type of album you could listen to over and over again, and you'd still find something new every time you played it.
The 12-track offering from Lucinda Williams is powerful and poignant, with the acclaimed singer-songwriter offering commentary on everything from the news cycle (Bad News Blues) to social media and more serious topics.
Her powerful, gravelly tones blast life and feeling into tracks like Man Without A Soul, but the 67-year-old switches vocal gears effortlessly for slower tunes like Big Black Train and stand-out track Good Souls.
This album is also reportedly the first time Williams' husband and manager, Tom Overby, appears in the credits as a co-writer for a few of the tracks.
If you ever needed proof (not that anyone does) as to why the American singer is regarded as rock/folk/country royalty, this album delivers it on a silver platter.
It's Only Us
STRAIGHT out of San Francisco's Bay Area, Monophonics deliver a suite of songs to lift spirits and perhaps even transport you in these testing times. Here, they continue to ply their trade: psychedelic soul in the vein of Charles Bradley with the globe-trotting style of Khruangbin.
It's a sound that has become increasingly popular since 2018, making a commercial cross-over a realistic prospect for the outfit. It's Only Us is the most political album of their 15-year career, with singer Kelly Finnigan touching on mental health issues, gun violence in America, and themes of unity and acceptance.
Last One Standing, with its swelling, string-heavy second section, draws heavily from the Curtis Mayfield songbook, while Tunnel Vision is a darker offering, combining sinister desert rock with a hint of disco.
Monophonics may lack a striking aesthetic, or a singer with a truly unique delivery, but they make up for it with a well-crafted suite of songs.