Talk about making an impact! This album came to me from
left field: so far to my left in fact that it came from 3000 miles
across the Pond in Canada! And it was by an artist who was new to me,
and new to the other Brits I have played this impressive debut album to.
And having played it, I will not be going out on a limb when I say that Rutledge will not be a “Justin Who?” here much longer. This bloke knows how to grab your attention.
From the getgo, his strangely hypnotic voice has you entranced. I cannot remember a more highly-charged opener since Loudon Wainwright all those years ago gasped out those words “In Delaware when I was younger” and we were instantly hooked, and then hung on every line. But in contrast to that spare early Wainwright sound, here some wonderful musicianship accompanies him: I counted no fewer than nineteen instrumentalists/vocalists lending a hand on the album. One of the joys of the album for me was hearing Dan Whiteley's sweetest-of-sweet mandolin coupled with the sexy sublime vocal harmonies of Megan Marshall.
This Rutledge guy is already in his mid-twenties, the age that Jackson Browne was when he wrote and cut his masterpiece “Late For The Sky”. And it is not just the age thing that invites the comparison: in many ways “No Never Alone” is an updating of Browne's album some 30 years later.
He has Browne's knack of delivering achingly raw and vulnerable vocals, and writes about the same subjects of loss, solitude and the nature of reality.
That Rutledge's songs do not have the lyrical genius of those on “Late For The Sky” is perhaps to be expected: even Browne never reached this high-water mark again.
Great arrangements that have that aural sepia glow to them. Indeed the ”sepia” extends to the lyric sheet, where the lyrics are just about readable until sepia/reddish train wagons are pictured right across the lyrics, making them headache-inducing to read. Darned infuriating! Shady Records hang your head in shame.
And the daftest thing is this: we did not need his lyrics in print anyway.
His diction is just fine, and the production even finer: every
little nuance in the recording studio is made apparent. The whole album
is the total antithesis of the bland Garth Brooks PACKAGED
cellophane-wrapped studio sound.
This debut Justin Rutledge album promises to be the first of many.
Ownership, copyright and title of this UK folk music CD review belongs to Dai Woosnam. Ownership, copyright and title are not transferable or assignable to you or other parties regardless of how or if you or other parties use, copy, save, backup, store, retrieve, transmit, display, publish, modify or share the CD review in whole or in part. Please read the "Terms, Conditions and Disclaimer" section on my web site for additional information about using, quoting, or reprinting this CD review.
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