ROBERT PLANT AND THE SENSATIONAL SPACE SHIFTERS
Lullaby and . . . the Ceaseless Roar
Nonesuch Age and experience has its benefits. On the inspirations for this impressive album of songs and sounds, Robert Plant says that “now I have a whole index, an absolute rainbow, of influences”. The music tips its hat in so many directions that chasing them down is a fool’s errand. But this wonderfully adept band keeps everything in shape despite the shifting genres. Plant’s recent Americana explorations are melded into African rhythms with elements of the Bristol Sound. Classic rock rubs riffs with the striking sound of the one-stringed Gambian ritti. There are some reference to the woolly mystical, but Plant is mainly addressing questions of personal identity and the impermanence of love. Yet this is, as Plant says, a joyous sound, a celebration of space shifting. robertplant.com Download: Little Maggie, Somebody There, House of Love
LENA ULLMAN & IVOR OTTLEY Skating Across the Baltic
Ivor Ottley Music This might be the album Elizabeth Cotton would have made if she had been born in Sweden and reared in Clare. Lena Ullman – banjo player, singer, composer – possesses a less than robust voice, but she brings it to bear on songs so utterly sinuous that the match is made, mostly effortlessly. Swedish fiddler Ivor Ottley brings a low-slung, loping style to this lo-fi collection, paring the melody lines to their bare bone. At times Ullman’s pacing errs on the side of lumbering (and her cover of Dirk Powell’s Waterbound is an object lesson in how perfection cannot be tampered with), but the whole of Skating Across the Baltic is so much more than the sum of its parts. This is rag and bone music that takes the high lonesome tones of bluegrass, infuses them with the bereft space of our tradition, and then slows the tape reel down so that we can savour every last note. ivorottley.com
Slumberland Records The name, presumably, is a punning reference to the harpist Joanna Newsom. But there’s nothing delicate or understated about this Cardiff five-piece. They met at an anger management course and their music sounds like the audio you would use to torture terror suspects. Psykick Espionage is released as a split 7-inc inch single with New York’s Perfect Pussy, who contribute their version of the Sugercubes’ Leash Called Love. You have been warned.