Album Reviews 05/06/09
The Hawk & The Hacksaw - Delivrance (The Leaf Label) The fourth album from New Mexico folk duo Jeremy Barnes and his partner Heather Trost offers a riproaring mixture of traditional folk with Eastern European chamber music, complete with all manner of yelps and screams.
To accentuate the authenticity of the project, the duo recorded the album in Budapest using local musicians and the results are occasionally thrilling, if just a bit too repetitive.
Barnes is no stranger to Balkan influences – he was the drummer of Neutral Milk Hotel, the band behind one of the greatest little-known albums of the 1990s, In an Aeroplane Over the Sea.
Burn it: Kertez
Patrick Watson - Wooden Arms (Peacefrog)
Winners – ahead of Arcade Fire and Feist – of Canada's equivalent of the Mercury Prize, Patrick Watson (it's both a band and a person) follow up 2007's Close to Paradise with another album that intrigues, but does not satisfy nearly enough.
Wooden Arms is the sound of a group who want you to know that their influences are wide-ranging and impeccable, but the results frustratingly skim the surface.
Yet there are glimpses as to how good this lot can be: the Nick Drake-like Man Like You and the gloriously explosive finale, Machinery of the Heavens, are exceptional.
Burn it: Man Like You
Elvis Costello - Secret, Profane & Sugarcane (Hear Music)
In the mid-1980s, Elvis Costello and T Bone Burnett toured together as The Coward Brothers. A successful, if short-lived live entity, Burnett would go on to produce Costello's King of America and Spike albums.
Now, T Bone and the former Declan McManus have reconvened for this stripped back acoustic offering that represents a marked improvement on last year's lightweight Momofuku – and all recorded in a three-day burst in Nashville.
The pair co-wrote two of the album's strongest songs, Sulphur To Sugarcane and The Crooked Line which feature the unmistakable vocals of Emmylou Harris.
Elsewhere, Costello and country legend Loretta Lynn share songwriting credits on the dark ballad, I Felt the Chill.
With old songs renewed and others culled from Costello's side projects, it's hardly surprising that the album doesn't hang together coherently. Taken individually, however, the songs highlight Costello's enduring gifts.
Burn it: I Felt the Chill