Record Review with Kevin Bryan

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Kevin Bryan delivers his verdict on some of this week’s alternative CD releases.

Mumford & Sons - Delta (Island Records). The Mumfords’ early output had an infectious folksy charm which may have enraged the purists but did prove hugely successful in terms of solid record sales, bringing the band chart-topping albums on both sides of the Atlantic. The passage of time has seen their albums grow increasingly anondyne and predictable, however, and the spurious rustic bonhomie which dominated those early offerings has sadly given way to the undemanding melodic balladry which dominates Delta. Darkness Visible provides a welcome respite from this formulaic fare, delivering Americana artist Gill Landry’s spoken word extract from Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost over a

deliciously sepulchral musical backdrop.

Buddy Holly/Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - True Love Ways (Decca Records). This unusual offering marries some of Buddy Holly’s classic vocal and guitar tracks from the late 50s with the sweeping strings of the R.P.O. in a rather bizarre collaboration from beyond the grave. Buddy was actually beginning to experiment with orchestral backings during the final recording sessions which preceded his untimely death in a 1959 plane crash, so perhaps if he’d been spared the supremely talented Texan would have given his stamp of approval to these freshly minted arrangements of timeless gems such as Everyday, Words of Love and It Doesn’t Matter Anymore.

60s Hits - The Ultimate Collection (Union Square Music). It may not always have seemed apparent to those avid consumers of rock and pop who lived through this increasingly distant era, but with the benefit of hindisght it’s become clear that the 60s was a golden decade for music across a wide range of genres, and this inexpensive five-CD set brings together a whole host of classic recordings from those days. Bands such as The Beatles and Stones are always conspicuous by their absence from anthologies such as this but there are more than enough archive gems on offer to compensate, including iconic recordings from the likes of Fleetwood Mac, The Moody Blues, Smokey Robinson and one-hit wonders Thunderclap Newman of Something in the Air fame.

Willard Grant Conspiracy - Untethered (Loose). Untethered is the tenth and final studio album from the excellent Willard Grant Conspiracy, recorded in the months before cancer claimed the life of their frontman and creative mainstay Robert Fisher in February 2017. The album was completed before Robert’s death but the tapes have only recently been dusted down and brought to life by the band’s viola player, David Michael Curry. The latter’s eloquent contributions to stand-out tracks such as Love You Apart, Saturday With Jane and Untethered itself set the seal on this sombre and reflective set.