Albums round up: Cistern by Jherek Bischoff; Summer 08 by Metronomy; Young Runaway by Hattie Briggs; Dexys Do Irish Country & Soul by Dexys

Cistern by Jherek Bischoff
Cistern by Jherek Bischoff
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The impressive second album from American composer Jherek Bischoff for the Leeds-based label Leaf was inspired by time spent improvising in an empty two million gallon underground water tank which he discovered while mixing his previous record Composed. That in turn reminded him of a childhood spent at sea on a sailing boat.

Fittingly, it’s a slow-moving and immersive affair, populated by sighing cellos, pizzicato strings, a twangy guitar and echoing piano notes.

There’s a great deal of space here and a mood at times of foreboding but the album ends serenely with the quietly beautiful The Sea’s Son as Bischoff drifts out on an imaginary ocean.

Having courted the mainstream with the prettified pop of The English Riviera and its Motown-infused successor Love Letters, Joe Mount and his bandmates in Metronomy lurch back towards their quirkier origins in Summer 08.

The ghosts of Prince and 80s David Bowie lurk within its grooves, along with Larry Blackmon’s codpiece-wearing funkateers Cameo, flamboyant rap outfit Outkast and the Talking Heads offshoot The Tom Tom Club.

It’s one long party jam – enlivened by the presence of Swedish dance pop star Robyn in Hang Me Out To Dry – but the album as a whole could do with a few more hooks and memorable melodies.

Gloucestershire-based singer-songwriter Hattie Briggs won acclaim for her debut album Red & Gold, a folky confection that included a version of Eva Cassidy’s arrangement of Fields of Gold produced by Cassidy’s brother, Dan.

The year before that, then aged just 22, she was nominated for the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award.

The influence of Eva Cassidy and Joni Mitchell is evident in tracks such as The Lake and Digging To Australia while there’s a country twang to Summertime Man. Briggs harmonises sweetly with bass player Jack Cookson in the gentle Have We Met Before?

The overall laid back acoustic feel to Young Runaway is sure to suit the Radio 2 playlist.

If we’ve learned anything from the career of musical maverick Kevin Rowland overly the last 40 years it’s to never second guess wheere he might go next.

From punk to pop to Northern soul to folk, and even a spell as a cross-dressing crooner, the 62-year-old singer-songwriter has consistently confounded both critics and his own audience.

Now finally appreciated as an auteur, he’s back with the umpteenth line-up of his band Dexys and an album that he says “expanded from solely consisting of Irish songs to songs I’ve always loved and wanted to record”.

If the selection seems at times scattershot – I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen and Curragh of Kildare nestle alongside Rod Stewart’s You Wear It Well, the Bee Gees’ To Love Somebody and Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now – the record is unified by its Celtic flavoured arrangements and Rowland’s distinctive delivery.

Some songs work better than others. It’s unlikely fans of Geno will linger long over the cover of Diane Warren’s epic weepie How Do I Live, but a playful revival of the Friends of Distinction’s 60s R&B hit Grazing in the Grass is a lot more fun.

As ever, Rowland remains a singular artist to the last.

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