Kevin Bryan’s record reviews

Resident music expert Kevin Bryan gives us his take on several records.

Josh Rouse, “The Embers of Time” (Yep Roc Records)- Gifted American expatriate Josh Rouse is still concocting sublimely beguiling albums from his adopted Spanish base in Valencia, and “The Embers of Time” must rank as one of his most impressive offerings to date. Devotees of the singer-songwriter genre should find Rouse’s latest batch of poetic musings on the human condition well nigh indispensable, with distant echoes of the solo Paul Simon reverberating through choice tracks such as “Too Many Things On My Mind “ and the reflective “Time.”

Eliza Carthy & Tim Eriksen, “Bottle” (Navigator Records)- Eliza Carthy’s refreshingly open- minded approach to music-making has seen the acclaimed folk fiddler working with everyone from Paul Weller and Rufus Wainwright to Joan Baez over the years, and her latest stunning collaboration finds Eliza working with one of the prime purveyors of purest Americana. This pairing is obviously a musical marriage made in heaven, with the duo employing electric guitar, fiddle and banjo as they breathe new life into a fine batch of arresting traditional ballads led by “Prodigal Son,” “Sweet Susan” and “Whitby Lad.”

Grigory Sokolov, “The Salzburg Recital” (Deutsche Grammophon)- Russian classical pianist Grigory Sokolov has been widely hailed as the finest keyboard virtuoso of his generation but this notoriously reticent character has always been reluctant to capture any of his peerless performances for posterity, which has made recordings of his work almost as rare as the proverbial hen’s teeth. Sokolov recently signed a long overdue contract with Deutsche Grammophon however, and he makes his eagerly anticipated debut for the label with this recital from the 2008 Salzburg Festival, showcasing his interpretations of works by such diverse composers as Mozart, Scriabin, Rameau and J.S.Bach. Splendid stuff.

The Albion Dance Band, “Stella Maris” (Talking Elephant Records)- The various incarnations of the Albion Band delighted roots music enthusiasts with their robust brand of electric folk for more than four decades, and this highly worthwhile re-issue focusses attention on a long unavailable 1986 offering from their illustrious back catalogue. Founder member Ashley Hutchings guided the band through a compelling assortment of ballads and instrumental pieces, with haunting vocalist Cathy Lesurf in particularly fine fettle on tracks such as”The Rose and the Rock” and the self-penned “Orion’s Belt.”