NETRHYTMS

Mockingbird

‘Though its recording was interrupted by no less than eight throat operations, the Scottish-American singer-songwriter’s sophomore album has arrived in fine fettle. His honey-smoke vocals bring sounding even more akin to Martin Stephenson than he did on his debut, with hints of Jackson C Frank, John Martyn and Martyn Joseph also peeking through, the mood remains much the same intoxicating minor key leafy Celtic folk meets Southern back-porch blues.

As before, he includes a couple of classy covers in the shape of Townes Van Zandt’s White Freight Liner Blues and, complementing the song’s and his own Dylan influence, Bob’s own Tomorrow Is A Long Time.

But, effortlessly played and sung, it’s his own material that shines brightest. Listen to the quiet sensuality of Lay It All Down (on which he sounds like God’s answer to Chris Rea) or the dappled lazing haze of Singing Back on which you can almost imagine him trailing his hand in the river as he wrote it. Likewise Miller’s Farm, from whence comes the album title, is a wonderful marriage of Nick Drake and John Steinbeck.

Unveiling his countrier side on Portmahomack and Half Asleep, showing Mark Knopfler how to do smoky blues with Downtown and getting on his feet for Ain’t No Reason’s slap lurch r&b complete with brass flourishes from Annie Whitehead and Paul Jayasingha while superbly showcasing his accomplished performance on classical acoustic guitar and pedal steel on the meditatively moody instrumental Blues For Loren, there’s not a weak moment here. ‘Tell me how long can a man wait for his time?’, he sings. With this album, surely it is already here.’

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