Echo Slightly reviewed by Martin Smit
Greg Copeland reviewed by Alexandra Smit-Stachowski
Birds Fly South – Echo Slightly (NonExistent Recordings)
We are wrapped nostalgic as the electronics sigh into focus, synths shuffle slide across the tracks caressing, covering the delicate vocals.
We are sucked into this ambiguous calm, only to find the dance storm growing in strength, the drums skitter clean industrial, guitars swoop in like sexy fighter planes and all is popSwirl, PoPSwaY.
Each ballad is merely an entry into the rampage, the sky bleeds gothic colours, the metal twists and grins are barely restrained.
Tightly wound, the explosions are suggestive, the tension delectable.
There are Robyn like CandyMusic nuances, and the band gaze back into the 80s darkly, for every shiny moment, there is shy shadow.
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Diana And James – Greg Copeland (Inside Recordings)
Greg Copeland’s debut album, ‘Revenge Will Come Back’ in 1982 was produced by school friend Jackson Browne, the album made an impact and tracks were covered by Joan Baez, Browne and David Lindley. Copeland then disappeared from view – 25 years later, he returns with ‘Diana And James”, again executive produced by Browne.
“There oughta be a law,“ sings Copeland on the opening track, too true – those keen on good music should be legally bound to listen to albums like this one. Packed with great violins and nyckelharpa (a traditional Swedish instrument), the title track sees Greg play electric, acoustic and baritone guitars producing dreamy twangy sounds.
Heather Waters does harmonies with Copeland to lyrics including gems like: „Dear Reader right about now we’re tearing up our tickets for your long black train.“
The melodies are gorgeous – this is story music that you need to listen to over and over again and each time you’re bound to hear something you missed, it’s that layered.
Copeland sounds like he could be Mark Lanegan’s older brother – both have blood-soaked lyrics with the same type of vocalising. The ghost of Hank Williams is in the guitar-playing of the song, “The Only Wicked Thing“ while the track, “Between Two Worlds“ brings to mind memories of lazy autumn days with leaves blowing.
The 25-year break in between records didn’t harm Copeland, he’s used the time to explore his darker country roots. The music sounds like it would have been a good soundtrack to HBO’s ‘Deadwood’ series about legendary gritty cowboys in America’s early days.
Backed by many Californian musical heavyweights including Jay Bellerose, Gabe Witcher, Bob Glaub, Patrick Warren, and Phil Parlapiano– Copeland plays with violinist Carl Kihlstedt who sings with him on ‘Count the bodies on My Crown’.
Listening to this album and the lyrics – you’re left wanting to see the accompanying music videos, the songs deserve a visual backdrop to complement them further.
All in all, this is a beautiful album which should be critically-acclaimed by the mainstream music press but I have the overwhelming suspicion it has been unwisely ignored. Music will out and if justice serves, ‘Diana and James’ will get the credit it deserves.
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You can hear tracks from both of these albums on the NBT Podcast