Record Review with Kevin Bryan

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It’s record reviews time again, courtesy of Kevin Bryan.

Joan Armatrading - Me Myself I World Tour (429 Records). Singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading has spent the past two years traversing the globe in what is destined to be her final world tour, performing stripped down versions of the cream of her sizeable back catalogue with only her own guitars and keyboard for accompaniment. The venture seems to have been an unqualified success, and Joan’s new CD captures just one of those 200-plus shows, recorded live at a venue

in the suburbs of Washington DC just over 12 months ago. Down To Zero, Rosie and the inevitable Love And Affection find this Grammy award nominated performer in typically majestic form and should be required listening for anyone who’s ever enjoyed her distinctive approach to music-making during the past four decades or so.

Grin feat. Nils Lofgren - Grin, 1 + 1, All Out (Retroworld). Nils Lofgren is best known these days as a stalwart member of Bruce Springsteen’s backing band, but the gifted singer and guitarist had already assembled an impressive body of work in his own right long before he joined forces with the E Street Band in 1984. This splendid re-issue brings together the three albums that Nils recorded with Grin during the early seventies, showcasing the bittersweet melodic rock which became his trademark during those far off days. White Lies, Like Rain and Moon Tears are the best of an excellent bunch.

Sarah Jarosz - Undercurrent (Sugarhill Records). As a graduate of the New England Conservatory the multi-talented Ms.Jarosz brings a touch of genuine musical quality to her subtle explorations of lost love and loneliness. This gifted acoustic balladeer hails from Texas but now bases herself in New York City, and this recent relocation has obviously informed Sarah’s most personal offering to date. Undercurrent showcases some of the most beguiling examples of

Americana that any devotee of the genre could ever wish to hear, with House of Mercy, Lost Dog and Early Morning Light emerging as the cream of the crop.

Magna Carta - Martin’s Cafe (Talking Elephant). Martin’s Cafe was Magna Carta’s eighth studio album, recorded in spring 1974 but not released until three years later because of various contractual hassles. Founder members Chris Simpson and Glen Stuart were joined by assorted session men including Rick Wakeman, Elton John sideman Davey Johnstone and pedal steel guitarist B.J.Cole for an amiable exercise in tuneful folk-rock which would signal Stuart’s vinyl farewell to the band, as he left the fold soon afterwards to open a pet shop in Surrey, citing the customary “musical differences.”