Jane Allison – Methylene Blue

As 2017 went through its final handful of rewarding weeks, it is fair to say it produced some of its biggest musical treats, one of which was the new album from singer songwriter Jane Allison. The follow-up to her hypnotic debut album Just Another Girl three years earlier, Methylene Blue is a tantalisingly magnetic affair in its own right deserving of all the praise carrying attention it can muster.

The former vocalist of indie outfit KarmaDeva, Jane Allison Stanness to give her full name is one of those talents and voices which almost haunt the imagination. Her songwriting is an embrace of observation and intimacy, her fusion of folk and Americana a warm melancholic hug on the senses which carries you away in thought and creative seduction. Proof came with Just Another Girl and its bewitchment of emotive shadows and personal angst, attributes all the richer within the breath-taking thought courting adventure of Methylene Blue which confirms Jane Allison as one of Britain’s finest modern day troubadours, or should that be trobairitz.

Unveiling tales of “dereliction, salvation, obsession and allure, with its title track inspired in parts by the breath-taking love letters of Violet Trefusis to Vita Sackville-West”, all providing an “homage to triumph, defiance, the heroine, the daughter, and the muse”, Methylene Blue was recorded in fits and starts during Kula Shaker’s 2016 20th anniversary and K2.0 world tour. Blessed with the backing vocals of Audrey Evans from Mediæval Bæbes, the album arose at a time of great personal loss and during the devastating attack on Brussels. There is sadness at its heart but equally defiance and hope thick warmth which brews a melancholy so easy to immerse within.

The album opens up with Ain’t Wreckin’ Me, a country fuelled canter with the rich familiar twang the style often brews; its lure wrapping Allison’s enticing tones soon backed by equally beguiling harmonies. Rising from the ashes of a lost relationship, the track is a bouncy self-affirming affair getting the album off to a very potent start.

The outstanding Another Prayer follows, its mellow sighs riding a captivating swing as Allison again lures total attention with her bewitching voice and keys bred melodies. The darker pulse of bass is as compelling; its lurking presence engaging as the song with a certain Kirsty MacColl hue to it sublimely seduces ears and appetite before Hollow Rock slips in on a vibrant shuffle, growing second by second into a similarly absorbing proposal. Harmonica and guitar weave their own Americana spawned temptation but there is no denying that it is Allison’s voice and craft which takes the tightest grip.

Oh Girl is next, caressing ears with its gentle but determinedly infectious and lively serenade while its successor, For What It’s Worth shares a heart spilling ballad. From its initial breath, the first of the two is working away building towards a galvanic crescendo, Allison the fascination at its core while in contrast the second strolls along with reflection and brewing affirmation for company. Both songs simply charm in their individual ways as too the album’s title track, another skilfully catchy and soulful croon upon the ears hard to get too much of.

That is something which applies to all tracks within Methylene Blue, as the charismatic saunter of Forgotten Son and the brooding drama of Outlaw Valentine prove. The pair seizes ears and imagination with unstoppable ease, the first arresting ears with its expression and emotion, the body with its bounce while its companion takes the listener into a spellbinding landscape of long shadows and dark romance with a delicious carnival-esque hued undercurrent. The track, the best or not on the album, is undoubtedly the most enthralling.

The smiling invitation of Texas Baby blends the country joy of its named state with Nashvillian flavours before Unknown Soldier bring things to an alluring and haunting close. It is a fascinating and highly enjoyable end to an album which commands regular attention. It is fair to say that the genres at the heart of Allison’s music do not generally induce our passions but in her hands they combine to truly pleasure our ears and enrich our days.

An accomplished actress in her own right and soon to be seen in the film Slaughter House Rulez, a Simon Pegg / Nick Frost comedy horror movie directed by Crispian Mills and surely basking in plaudits for Methylene Blue, Jane Allison could find 2018 a very big year.

Methylene Blue is available now @ https://janeallison.bandcamp.com/

https://janeallison.net/     https://www.facebook.com/janeallisonmusic/    https://twitter.com/JAStanness

Pete RingMaster 10/01/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Goldray – Self Titled

Goldray Press shot 3

Ahead of the band’s first full-length later this spring, we take a look at Goldray’s self-titled debut mini album which was released earlier this year. Consisting of four mesmeric and dramatic soundscapes bred in early seventies psychedelic temptations within fiery rock embraces, the release is an enthralling encounter fuelling the imagination and emotions whilst laying down the most compelling bait for the upcoming album.

Goldray is the project of Reef guitarist Kenwyn House who formed the band in 2010 when teaming up with vocalist Leah Rasmussen (Hydrogen, EMI, Bedrock, Renaissance). Sharing the vision to create music ‘blending psych and prog experimental arrangements resulting in a dynamic that took them towards psychedelic rock’, the pair enlisted Kula Shaker drummer Paul Winter-Hart and bassist Sinah Blohberger in 2010 and 2011 respectively. The band’s second year saw Andy Treacey (Faithless) take over the sticks whilst in 2012 Geoff Laurens (The Resistors) joined the band to take over bass duties. Financed via Pledge Music, the mini album features performances from both the previously mentioned drummers as it revels in the inspiration of the psych rock tradition of the late-sixties and early-seventies. House has commented on that influential period by saying “That era is so avoided by most of the media and the musical orthodoxy which is strange considering how powerful that time was for music and culture. Much of what was being said then – freedom, war, environment – is just as relevant, if not more relevant, today. It’s such a rich area to draw on.

Co-produced by Clive Martin with House and Rasmussen, with final touches provided by Brit Award-winning producer Pedro Ferreira, the Goldray_Artmini-album saw its first ‘soft’ release to pledgers last November with an official release on the band’s own Akashic Records late January. It is a proposition which washes over the senses with melodic flames which seduce as potently as the almost siren like voice of Rasmussen, though she only leads the imagination into inciting adventures of sonic invention within evocative landscapes rather than any destructive intent. Opening song Outland instantly transfixes attention with an initial caress of thick sonic coaxing, a firm and strong yet gentle beckoning. With a darkly resonating bass tone joining in with the celestial caresses of Rasmussen’s delivery, a sultry air and heat envelops the senses as the band paint its intensive canvas. The track continues to drift and entwine around thoughts and emotions but with a bordering on exhaustive intensity and drama which enflames ears to imagination, passions to appetite. It is an immersive flight which challenges and seduces with equal strength before leaving the psyche in the hand of the closing glance of Instrumental: The Arrival, it a lingering spice which only increases the already awoken anticipation for the album as it closes the first song.

The following Calling Your Name emerges from dark imposing shadows and a menacing rhythmic stalking, a discord kissed surface to the guitars an additionally sinister taste to the portentous entrance. The voice of Rasmussen provides a beacon through the darkness, holding back the dark nightmares and drawing in breaking shafts of melodic warmth and magnetic beauty. It is a glorious evocation soon surpassing the potency of its predecessor. Its towering and slightly threatening walls frame an unpredictable and transfixing waltz, rhythms and bass continuing their heavy persistence whilst vocals sublimely entrance within their cage. The best track on the release it is a delicious danger and seduction rolled into one.

Indigo Sky courts a warmer climate though shadows and intensive incitement are no stranger to the soundscape either. As Rasmussen soars through the evocative textures and expansive sonic painting, guitars and rhythms unveil rich provocative hues and inventive temptations to bewitch and push the senses whilst the bass again lays down a dark lure which only adds to the engrossing call of the journey.

The closing Diamond Road is in many ways the most strongly sixties influenced offering, its body and melodic soul seemingly more impacted by those evocative flavours of the time  especially with the delicious Doors like keys, though just as boldly it embraces a richly coloured modern sonic fire. Completed by the brief Instrumental: The Busking Magician, the track is an epically enthralling conclusion to a similarly compelling release. Goldray’s first official offering is a strikingly full and fulfilling encounter which if a hint of the upcoming album provides the strongest enticement possible.

http://www.goldrayband.com

8.5/10

RingMaster 27/03/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

 

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