Thursday, August 21, 2014

More trenchant observations from an old beat up Ford

Well, it's been an age since I blogged. No excuses - except that I've been having a really good time, far too busy to write about it!

I've been in Sri Lanka - three weeks of heat and humidity with some of the loveliest people on the planet. I will reflect on that visit later as there's still quite a lot to process from it.

I've also been at Spring Harvest in France (way back in June) and had a really enjoyable time with a small group of people reflecting on how we are all God's works-in-progress. I was working with the lovely Pete James.

And I have been listening lots of new (and old) music. I was surprised that the new David Gray album (Mutineers) turned out to be really good. But I am not surprised that the new Bill Mallonee record, Winnowing, turns out to be a cracker.

He's called his backing band for this one 'the darkling planes' which suggest the mood of the album. On the liner notes he describes it as autumnal. Mallonee's genius has always been to write melancholy songs of faith and hope. Here the faith and hope seem fainter but are still present as Bill wrestles with the darkening landscape and seeks to find the pin-pricks of light in it.

The darkling planes turn out to be him and his wife (Muriah Rose). Between them they provide a lush and sombre backdrop for his reflections; lots of jangly guitars and flourishes of piano. At times - especially on got some explainin to do - he sounds like he's channelling Neil Young. But he is a unique voice in contemporary Americana and one that ought to be more widely heard.

Winnowing is the third album in as many years that reveal Mallonee to be a writer and performer at the top of his game. They are probably the best three records of his 50+ album career. He has hit a rich vein of lyrical and musical clarity and is producing some of the most of the most affecting music I've heard on a long time. Check the album out here - you'll be so glad you did

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